There is no known disease entity or appreciable physiological deficit that is associated with loss of airway smooth muscle contractility. Rather, it seems that, when it is operating normally, airway smooth muscle may have no compelling function and, when it contracts excessively or contracts even moderately within an altered microenvironment, serves only to cause problems. In that sense, it is a frustrated cell, for in those very instances when airway smooth muscle manifests itself the consequences seem to be almost uniformly undesirable.
As is often the case, frustration coupled with lack of purpose can be a precursor of misbehavior. Among the various cell types that populate the body, we might think of airway smooth muscle as the Hell’s Angel of cells, sitting on a Harley-Davidson, unshaven, a cigarette in one hand, a can of beer in the other, and a tattoo on its arm reading “Born to Lose.”
C.Y. Seow and J.J. Fredberg, Signal Transduction in Smooth Muscle: Historical perspective on airway smooth muscle: the saga of a frustrated cell. J Appl Physiol 91: 938-952, 2001.
I'm just going to savor that analogy.
Also, Eric Martin, I thought of you. ;p