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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2001 Mar;90(3):1111-7.

Methodology for the measurement of mucociliary function in the mouse by scintigraphy.

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Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


The objective of the study was to develop a scintigraphic method for measurement of airway mucociliary clearance in small laboratory rodents such as the mouse. Previous investigations have characterized the secretory cell types present in the mouse airway, but analysis of the mucus transport system has been limited to in vitro examination of tissue explants or invasive in vivo measures of a single airway, the trachea. Three methods were used to deposit insoluble, radioisotopic colloidal particles: oropharyngeal aspiration, intratracheal instillation, and nose-only aerosol inhalation. The initial distribution of particles within the lower respiratory tract was visualized by gamma-camera, and clearance of particles was followed intermittently over 6 h and at the conclusion, 24 h postdelivery. Subsets of mice underwent lavage for evidence of tissue inflammation, and others were restudied for reproducibility of the methods. The aspiration and instillation methods of delivery led to greater distributions of deposited activity within the lungs, i.e., approximately 60--80% of the total respiratory tract radioactivity, whereas the nose-only aerosol technique attained a distribution of 32% to the lungs. However, the aerosol technique maximized the fraction of particles that cleared the airway over a 24-h period, i.e, deposited onto airway epithelial surfaces and cleared by mucociliary function such that lung retention at 24 h averaged 57% for delivery by aerosol inhalation and > or =80% for the aspiration or intratracheal instillation techniques. Particle delivery methods did not cause lung inflammation/injury with use of inflammatory cells and chemoattractant cytokines as criteria. Scintigraphy can discern particle deposition and clearance from the lower respiratory tract in the mouse, is noninvasive and reproducible, and includes the capability for restudy and lung lavage when time course or chronic treatments are being considered.

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