Most of the readers of these articles are not familiar with the cell lines that ultimately develop into a normal human being. In early gestation there are 3 cell lines that occur, ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm. It is from these 3 cell lines that all of our organs are formed. Ectoderm forms our skin and things like hair, nails, etc. Mesoderm generally forms our muscle and supporting structures and endoderm forms most of our internal organs.
Interestingly, it is from the endoderm which forms our gastrointestinal tract that the lungs are formed.
It is not surprising then that some of the diseases of the lungs and the gastrointestinal tract share characteristics and causes. One shared disease process that we are beginning to recognize more often is the inflammation of the lung’s airways and the inner lining of our food tube, the esophagus. This common shared problem is caused by our old friend the eosinophil. We have talked about this before. The eosinophil is a white cell we all have but some of us have more than others and if these cells are present in increased numbers in the lining of our airways or the lining of our food tube inflammation occurs which may result in asthma, in the lungs and esophagitis, in our food tube. Other linings and coverings may be affected by this same type of inflammation including the sinuses and skin.
New therapies have now become available to help patients with one or more of these problems.