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Relationship: 943


A descriptive phrase which clearly defines the two KEs being considered and the sequential relationship between them (i.e., which is upstream, and which is downstream). More help

Occurrence, Transdifferentiation of ciliated epithelial cells leads to Goblet cell metaplasia

Upstream event
The causing Key Event (KE) in a Key Event Relationship (KER). More help
Downstream event
The responding Key Event (KE) in a Key Event Relationship (KER). More help

Key Event Relationship Overview

The utility of AOPs for regulatory application is defined, to a large extent, by the confidence and precision with which they facilitate extrapolation of data measured at low levels of biological organisation to predicted outcomes at higher levels of organisation and the extent to which they can link biological effect measurements to their specific causes. Within the AOP framework, the predictive relationships that facilitate extrapolation are represented by the KERs. Consequently, the overall WoE for an AOP is a reflection in part, of the level of confidence in the underlying series of KERs it encompasses. Therefore, describing the KERs in an AOP involves assembling and organising the types of information and evidence that defines the scientific basis for inferring the probable change in, or state of, a downstream KE from the known or measured state of an upstream KE. More help

AOPs Referencing Relationship

Taxonomic Applicability

Latin or common names of a species or broader taxonomic grouping (e.g., class, order, family) that help to define the biological applicability domain of the KER.In general, this will be dictated by the more restrictive of the two KEs being linked together by the KER.  More help
Term Scientific Term Evidence Link
human Homo sapiens High NCBI
mouse Mus musculus Moderate NCBI
rat Rattus norvegicus Low NCBI

Sex Applicability

An indication of the the relevant sex for this KER. More help
Sex Evidence
Mixed Low

Life Stage Applicability

An indication of the the relevant life stage(s) for this KER.  More help
Term Evidence
Adult Moderate

Key Event Relationship Description

Provides a concise overview of the information given below as well as addressing details that aren’t inherent in the description of the KEs themselves. More help

This KER is inferred. Following injury, airway epithelial repair is accomplished by (transient) remodeling processes. In the absence of cell proliferation, this remodeling is thought to be facilitated by transdifferentiation, i.e. the generation of specialized cell types, such as goblet cells, from other specialized cells, such as ciliated and club cells (Evans et al., 2004; Tesfaigzi, 2006). This transdifferentiation results in what pathologists refer to as goblet cell metaplasia.

Evidence Collection Strategy

Include a description of the approach for identification and assembly of the evidence base for the KER.  For evidence identification, include, for example, a description of the sources and dates of information consulted including expert knowledge, databases searched and associated search terms/strings.  Include also a description of study screening criteria and methodology, study quality assessment considerations, the data extraction strategy and links to any repositories/databases of relevant references.Tabular summaries and links to relevant supporting documentation are encouraged, wherever possible. More help

Evidence Supporting this KER

Addresses the scientific evidence supporting KERs in an AOP setting the stage for overall assessment of the AOP. More help

Transdifferentiation frequently occurs following airway epithelial injury by inhalation exposures (e.g. cigarette smoke, sulfur dioxide, endotoxin, viruses). Subsequent tissue repair processes are thought to initiate the transdifferentiation process, whereby ciliated epithelial cells first dedifferentiate and then redifferentiate to goblet cells, without an apparent increase in the total number of epithelial cells (Lumsden et al., 1984; Shimizu et al., 1996; Reader et al., 2003).

Alternatively, transdifferentiation may occur following the activation of EGFR-mediated anti-apoptotic signaling in ciliated epithelial cells. Subsequent stimulation by proinflammatory stimuli such as the Th2 cytokines interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-13 then promotes transdifferentiation of ciliated cells into goblet cells, thereby increasing the number of goblet cells (“second hit hypothesis”) in mouse tracheal epithelium and airway epithelia of COPD patients (Laoukili et al., 2001; Tyner et al., 2006; Curran & Cohn, 2010).

Biological Plausibility
Addresses the biological rationale for a connection between KEupstream and KEdownstream.  This field can also incorporate additional mechanistic details that help inform the relationship between KEs, this is useful when it is not practical/pragmatic to represent these details as separate KEs due to the difficulty or relative infrequency with which it is likely to be measured.   More help

The term metaplasia implies transdifferentiation; metaplasia is defined by the “phenotypic change” or “abnormal transformation of adult, fully differentiated tissue of one kind into a differentiation tissue of another kind” (Harkema and Hotchkiss, 1993; Harkema and Wagner, 2002). The biological plausibility of this KER is weak, because it is inferred.

Uncertainties and Inconsistencies
Addresses inconsistencies or uncertainties in the relationship including the identification of experimental details that may explain apparent deviations from the expected patterns of concordance. More help

The evidence supporting this KER is indirect or correlative and not in agreement with some other studies, which show that ciliated cells do not give rise to goblet cells during airway remodeling in rodents and humans, and with studies that provide evidence for increased goblet cell proliferation (Lumsden et al., 1984; Casalino-Matsuda at al., 2006; Taniguchi et al., 2011; Hays et al., 2006; Tesfaigzi et al., 2004).

Known modulating factors

This table captures specific information on the MF, its properties, how it affects the KER and respective references.1.) What is the modulating factor? Name the factor for which solid evidence exists that it influences this KER. Examples: age, sex, genotype, diet 2.) Details of this modulating factor. Specify which features of this MF are relevant for this KER. Examples: a specific age range or a specific biological age (defined by...); a specific gene mutation or variant, a specific nutrient (deficit or surplus); a sex-specific homone; a certain threshold value (e.g. serum levels of a chemical above...) 3.) Description of how this modulating factor affects this KER. Describe the provable modification of the KER (also quantitatively, if known). Examples: increase or decrease of the magnitude of effect (by a factor of...); change of the time-course of the effect (onset delay by...); alteration of the probability of the effect; increase or decrease of the sensitivity of the downstream effect (by a factor of...) 4.) Provision of supporting scientific evidence for an effect of this MF on this KER. Give a list of references.  More help


Response-response Relationship
Provides sources of data that define the response-response relationships between the KEs.  More help

The two KEs (transdifferentiation and metaplasia) are equivalent in definition, but represent different levels of biological organization (cellular vs tissue level). As such, there is no empiricial evidence to describe the response-response relationship.

Information regarding the approximate time-scale of the changes in KEdownstream relative to changes in KEupstream (i.e., do effects on KEdownstream lag those on KEupstream by seconds, minutes, hours, or days?). More help

The timescale for this KER is difficult to evaluate. Studies often study either transdifferentiation in cells or metaplasia in a tissue, but do not provide a temporal analysis of the disappearance of ciliated cells/appearance of goblet cells.

Known Feedforward/Feedback loops influencing this KER
Define whether there are known positive or negative feedback mechanisms involved and what is understood about their time-course and homeostatic limits. More help


Domain of Applicability

A free-text section of the KER description that the developers can use to explain their rationale for the taxonomic, life stage, or sex applicability structured terms. More help

There are many human studies illustrating transdifferentiation from ciliated to goblet cells or goblet cell metaplasia in 3D airway epithelial models (Gomperts et al., 2007), bronchial or nasal epithelial cells in vitro (Yoshisue and Hasegawa 2004, Turner et al., 2011, Laoukili et al., 2001) and in COPD patients (Tyner et al., 2006).

Airway epithelial transdifferentiation and goblet metaplasia were also observed in mice (Tyner et al., 2006, Fujisawa et al., 2008) and in rats  (Shim et al., 2001; Takeyama et al., 2008). However, to our knowledge, none of these studies measured transdifferentiation of ciliated to goblet cells directly.


List of the literature that was cited for this KER description. More help

Casalino-Matsuda, S.M., Monzón, M.E., and Forteza, R.M. (2006). Epidermal growth factor receptor activation by epidermal growth factor mediates oxidant-induced goblet cell metaplasia in human airway epithelium. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 34, 581-591.

Fujisawa, T., Ide, K., Holtzman, M.J., Suda, T., Suzuki, K., Kuroishi, S., Chida, K., and Nakamura, H. (2008). Involvement of the p38 MAPK pathway in IL-13-induced mucous cell metaplasia in mouse tracheal epithelial cells. Respirol 13, 191–202.

Gomperts, B.N., Kim, L.J., Flaherty, S.A., and Hackett, B.P. (2007). IL-13 regulates cilia loss and foxj1 expression in human airway epithelium. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol 37, 339-346.

Harkema, J., and Hotchkiss, J. (1993). Ozone- and endotoxin-induced mucous cell metaplasias in rat airway epithelium: novel animal models to study toxicant-induced epithelial transformation in airways. Toxicol Lett 68, 251–263.

Harkema, J., and Wagner, J. (2002). Non-allergic models of mucous cell metaplasia and mucus hypersecretion in rat nasal and pulmonary airways. Novartis Found Symp 248, 181–197; discussion 197–200, 277–282.

Lamb, D., and Reid, L. (1968). Mitotic rates, goblet cell increase and histochemical changes in mucus in rat bronchial epithelium during exposure to sulphur dioxide. J Pathol Bacteriol 96, 97–111.

Laoukili, J., Perret, E., Willems, T., Minty, A., Parthoens, E., Houcine, O., Coste, A., Jorissen, M., Marano, F., Caput, D., et al. (2001). IL-13 alters mucociliary differentiation and ciliary beating of human respiratory epithelial cells. J Clin Invest 108, 1817–1824.

Lumsden, A.B., McLean, A., and Lamb, D. (1984). Goblet and Clara cells of human distal airways: evidence for smoking induced changes in their numbers. Thorax 39, 844-849.

Reader, J.R., Tepper, J.S., Schelegle, E.S., Aldrich, M.C., Putney, L.F., Pfeiffer, J.W., and Hyde, D.M. (2003). Pathogenesis of mucous cell metaplasia in a murine asthma model. Am J Pathol 162, 2069–2078.

Shim, J.J., Dabbagh, K., Ueki, I.F., Dao-Pick, T., Burgel, P.R., Takeyama, K., Tam, D.C., and Nadel, J.A. (2001). IL-13 induces mucin production by stimulating epidermal growth factor receptors and by activating neutrophils. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 280, L134–L140.

Shimizu, T., Takahashi, Y., Kawaguchi, S., and Sakakura, Y. (1996). Hypertrophic and metaplastic changes of goblet cells in rat nasal epithelium induced by endotoxin. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 153, 1412–1418.

Takeyama, K., Tamaoki, J., Kondo, M., Isono, K., and Nagai, A. (2008). Role of epidermal growth factor receptor in maintaining airway goblet cell hyperplasia in rats sensitized to allergen. Clin Exp Allergy 38, 857–865.

Taniguchi, K., Yamamoto, S., Aoki, S., Toda, S., Izuhara, K., and Hamasaki, Y. (2011). Epigen is induced during the interleukin-13–stimulated cell proliferation in murine primary airway epithelial cells. Exp Lung Res 37, 461-470.

Tesfaigzi, Y., Harris, J.F., Hotchkiss, J.A., and Harkema, J.R. (2004). DNA synthesis and Bcl-2 expression during development of mucous cell metaplasia in airway epithelium of rats exposed to LPS. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 286, L268-L274.

Tyner, J., Tyner, E., Ide, K., Pelletier, M., Roswit, W., Morton, J., Battaile, J., Patel, A., Patterson, G., Castro, M., et al. (2006). Blocking airway mucous cell metaplasia by inhibiting EGFR antiapoptosis and IL-13 transdifferentiation signals. J Clin Invest 116, 309–321.

Yoshisue, H., and Hasegawa, K. (2004). Effect of MMP/ADAM inhibitors on goblet cell hyperplasia in cultured human bronchial epithelial cells. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 68, 2024–2031.