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Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2008 Nov 30;163(1-3):202-7. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2008.05.010. Epub 2008 May 22.

Efficient mucociliary transport relies on efficient regulation of ciliary beating.

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  • 1The Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel.


The respiratory mucociliary epithelium is a synchronized and highly effective waste-disposal system. It uses mucus as a vehicle, driven by beating cilia, to transport unwanted particles, trapped in the mucus, away from the respiratory system. The ciliary machinery can function in at least two different modes: a low rate of beating that requires only ATP, and a high rate of beating regulated by second messengers. The mucus propelling velocity is linearly dependent on ciliary beat frequency (CBF). The linear dependence implies that a substantial increase in transport efficiency requires an equally substantial rise in CBF. The ability to enhance beating in response to various physiological cues is a hallmark of mucociliary cells. An intricate signaling network controls ciliary activity, which relies on interplay between calcium and cyclic nucleotide pathways.

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