Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a recessive genetic disease caused by mutations in a gene encoding a protein called Cystic Fibrosis Transmembrane Conductance Regulator (CFTR). The CFTR protein is known to acts as a chloride (Cl−
) channel expressed in the exocrine glands of several body systems where it also regulates other ion channels, including the epithelial sodium (Na+
) channel (ENaC) that plays a key role in salt absorption. This function is crucial to the osmotic balance of the mucus and its viscosity. However, the pathophysiology of CF is more challenging than a mere dysregulation of epithelial ion transport, mainly resulting in impaired mucociliary clearance (MCC) with consecutive bronchiectasis and in exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. This review shows that the CFTR protein is not just a chloride channel. For a long time, research in CF has focused on abnormal Cl−
transport. Yet, the CFTR protein also regulates numerous other pathways, such as the transport of HCO3−
, glutathione and thiocyanate, immune cells, and the metabolism of lipids. It influences the pH homeostasis of airway surface liquid and thus the MCC as well as innate immunity leading to chronic infection and inflammation, all of which are considered as key pathophysiological characteristics of CF.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited