Airway epithelial regeneration requires autophagy and glucose metabolism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Kuan Li
  • Minmin Li
  • Wenli Li
  • Hongzhi Yu
  • Xin Sun
  • Qiuyang Zhang
  • Yu Li
  • Xue Li
  • Yue Li
  • E. Dale Abel
  • Qi Wu
  • Huaiyong Chen

External Institution(s)

  • Tianjin Medical University
  • Tianjin University
  • Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine


Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number875
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number12
StatusPublished - Dec 1 2019


Efficient repair of injured epithelium by airway progenitor cells could prevent acute inflammation from progressing into chronic phase in lung. Here, we used small molecules, genetic loss-of-function, organoid cultures, and in vivo lung-injury models to show that autophagy is essential for maintaining the pool of airway stem-like vClub cells by promoting their proliferation during ovalbumin-induced acute inflammation. Mechanistically, impaired autophagy disrupted glucose uptake in vClub progenitor cells, and either reduced accessibility to glucose or partial inhibition of glycolysis promoted the proliferative capacity of vClub progenitor cells and their daughter Club cells. However, glucose deprivation or glycolysis blockade abrogated the proliferative capacity of airway vClub cells and Club cells but promoted ciliated and goblet cell differentiation. Deficiency of glucose transporter-1 suppressed the proliferative capacity of airway progenitor cells after ovalbumin challenge. These findings suggested that autophagy and glucose metabolism are essential for the maintenance of airway epithelium at steady state and during allergic inflammation.

Citation formats


Li, K., Li, M., Li, W., Yu, H., Sun, X., Zhang, Q., ... Chen, H. (2019). Airway epithelial regeneration requires autophagy and glucose metabolism. Cell Death and Disease, 10(12), [875].


Li, K, Li, M, Li, W, Yu, H, Sun, X, Zhang, Q, Li, Y, Li, X, Li, Y, Abel, ED, Wu, Q & Chen, H 2019, 'Airway epithelial regeneration requires autophagy and glucose metabolism', Cell Death and Disease, vol. 10, no. 12, 875.