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J Theor Biol. 2009 Aug 21;259(4):837-49. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2009.04.026. Epub 2009 May 13.

A mathematical model of calcium-induced fluid secretion in airway epithelium.

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Auckland Bioengineering Institute, CBD, Auckland, New Zealand.


Regulation of periciliary liquid (PCL) depth is of central importance to mucociliary clearance by the airway epithelium. Without adequate hydration mucociliary transport would cease, leading to build up of mucus in the airways, and impairing the clearance of any trapped inhaled particulates. Airway epithelial cells are known to release ATP under a number of stress conditions. Cell surface receptors bind ATP and trigger an intracellular calcium response which regulates the gating of specific ion channels on the apical and basolateral cell membranes. This shifts the electrochemical balance, resulting in the accumulation of Na(+) and Cl(-) in the periciliary liquid, and providing an osmotic driving force for water flux. In this study, we present a mathematical model of a single airway epithelial cell which describes the fluid secretion elicited after a rise in intracellular calcium. The model provides a basis to quantitatively analyse the influence of intracellular calcium signalling on fluid movement. The model demonstrates behaviour consistent with a number of experimental data on manipulating periciliary liquid volume and tonicity, and provides a quantitative basis for analysing the role of the different membrane ion channels in determining water flux following different physiological stimuli.

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