Common respiratory diseases continue to represent a major public health problem, and much of the morbidity and mortality is due to airway inflammation and mucus production. Previous studies indicated a role for mitogen-activated protein kinase 14 (MAPK14) in this type of disease, but clinical trials are unsuccessful to date. Our previous work identified a related but distinct kinase known as MAPK13 that is activated in respiratory airway diseases and is required for mucus production in human cell-culture models. Support for MAPK13 function in these models came from effectiveness of MAPK13 versus MAPK14 gene-knockdown and from first-generation MAPK13-14 inhibitors. However, these first-generation inhibitors were incompletely optimized for blocking activity and were untested in vivo. Here we report the next generation and selection of a potent MAPK13-14 inhibitor (designated NuP-3) that more effectively downregulates type-2 cytokine-stimulated mucus production in air-liquid interface and organoid cultures of human airway epithelial cells. We also show that NuP-3 treatment prevents respiratory airway inflammation and mucus production in new minipig models of airway disease triggered by type-2 cytokine challenge or respiratory viral infection. The results thereby provide the next advance in developing a small-molecule kinase inhibitor to address key features of respiratory disease. NEW & NOTEWORTHY This study describes the discovery of a potent mitogen-activated protein kinase 13-14 (MAPK13-14) inhibitor and its effectiveness in models of respiratory airway disease. The findings thereby provide a scheme for pathogenesis and therapy of lung diseases [e.g., asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Covid-19, postviral, and allergic respiratory disease] and related conditions that implicate MAPK13-14 function. The findings also refine a hypothesis for epithelial and immune cell functions in respiratory disease that features MAPK13 as a possible component of this disease process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L726-L74
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • asthma
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • drug discovery
  • minipig model
  • respiratory viral infection


Dive into the research topics of 'A potent MAPK13-14 inhibitor prevents airway inflammation and mucus production'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this