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Am Rev Respir Dis. 1991 Nov;144(5):1091-4.

Autoregulation of beat frequency in respiratory ciliated cells. Demonstration by viscous loading.

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Department of Biological Structure, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.


As opposed to the virtually constant load exerted by water on the cilia of ciliated protozoa, the hydrodynamic load on respiratory cilia can undergo broad variations because of changes in the rheologic properties of mucus. When water-rowing ciliated cells are exposed to increased viscosity (1 to 50 cP), their beat frequency decreases exponentially. According to Newton's fluid dynamic theory, this outcome is expected for an engine that generates constant force. However, the findings reported here indicate that when mucus-propelling respiratory ciliated cells are exposed to high viscous loads, ranging from 12 to 150 cP, the frequency of ciliary beat decreases only slightly, whereas the beat amplitude remains virtually constant. These observations suggest that ciliated cells of the respiratory tract have a functional reserve that allows them to autoregulate their mechanical output in response to the changes in viscosity to which they are normally exposed in the airway.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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