Epithelial Dysfunction in Lung Diseases: Effects of Amino Acids and Potential Mechanisms Academic Article uri icon


  • Lung diseases affect millions of individuals all over the world. Various environmental factors, such as toxins, chemical pollutants, detergents, viruses, bacteria, microbial dysbiosis, and allergens, contribute to the development of respiratory disorders. Exposure to these factors activates stress responses in host cells and disrupt lung homeostasis, therefore leading to dysfunctional epithelial barriers. Despite significant advances in therapeutic treatments for lung diseases in the last two decades, novel interventional targets are imperative, considering the side effects and limited efficacy in patients treated with currently available drugs. Nutrients, such as amino acids (e.g., arginine, glutamine, glycine, proline, taurine, and tryptophan), peptides, and bioactive molecules, have attracted more and more attention due to their abilities to reduce oxidative stress, inhibit apoptosis, and regulate immune responses, thereby improving epithelial barriers. In this review, we summarize recent advances in amino acid metabolism in the lungs, as well as multifaceted functions of amino acids in attenuating inflammatory lung diseases based on data from studies with both human patients and animal models. The underlying mechanisms for the effects of physiological amino acids are likely complex and involve cell signaling, gene expression, and anti-oxidative reactions. The beneficial effects of amino acids are expected to improve the respiratory health and well-being of humans and other animals. Because viruses (e.g., coronavirus) and environmental pollutants (e.g., PM2.5 particles) induce severe damage to the lungs, it is important to determine whether dietary supplementation or intravenous administration of individual functional amino acids (e.g., arginine-HCl, citrulline, N-acetylcysteine, glutamine, glycine, proline and tryptophan) or their combinations to affected subjects may alleviate injury and dysfunction in this vital organ.

published proceedings

  • Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Chen, J., Jin, Y., Yang, Y., Wu, Z., & Wu, G.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Chen, J||Jin, Y||Yang, Y||Wu, Z||Wu, G

editor list (cited editors)

  • Wu, G.

publication date

  • January 2020