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Front Physiol. 2012 Aug 28;3:342. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2012.00342. eCollection 2012.

Effects of second hand smoke on airway secretion and mucociliary clearance.

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  • 1Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


The airway acts as the first defense against inhaled pathogens and particulate matter from the environment. One major way for the airway to clear inhaled foreign objects is through mucociliary clearance (MCC), an important component of the respiratory innate immune defense against lung disease. MCC is characterized by the upward movement of mucus by ciliary motion that requires a balance between the volume and composition of the mucus, adequate periciliary liquid (PCL) volume, and normal ciliary beat frequency (CBF). Airway surface fluid (ASL) is a thin layer liquid that consists of the highly viscous mucus upper "gel" layer, and the watery lubricating lower "sol" layer. Mucus production, secretion and clearance are considered to play a critical role in maintenance of airway health because it maintains hydration in the airway and traps particulates, bacteria, and viruses. Different types of epithelial cells, including secretory cells, and ciliated cells, contribute to the MCC function. Cigarette smoke (CS) contains chemicals and particulates that significantly affect airway secretion. Active and passive CS-induced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is frequently associated with hyperplasia of goblet cells and submucosal glands (SMGs), thus increasing the secretory capacity of the airways that impairs MCC.


epithelium; mucociliary clearance; mucus; smoke

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