Living With Chitin

Dust Mite

Dust Mite

Chitin is a polysaccharide that is a major component of arthropod cuticle. Chitin is ubiquitous and the second most abundant polysaccharide on our planet next to cellulose. Molted exoskeletons, dead insects and mites can litter our environment with chitin dust. The dust can become airborne and invade our lungs, causing irritation and inflammation. To manage the chitin contamination, cells in our lungs secrete Acidic Mammalian Chitinase (AMC), an enzyme that breaks the polysaccharide into its simple sugar building blocks. The simple sugars can be absorbed by cells, further converted and integrated into body tissues or eliminated as waste. People with inadequate levels of AMC can suffer asthma and other lung disease.

Steven J. Van Dyken, Hong-Erh Liang, Ram P. Naikawadi, Prescott G. Woodruff, Paul J. Wolters, David J. Erle, Richard M. Locksley. Spontaneous Chitin Accumulation in Airways and Age-Related Fibrotic Lung Disease. Cell. Volume 169, Issue 3, 20 April 2017, Pages 497–509.e13

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal, History. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Living With Chitin

  1. Pingback: Living With Chitin – Entomo Planet

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