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Biomed Opt Express. 2012 Sep 1;3(9):1978-92. Epub 2012 Aug 1.

Monitoring airway mucus flow and ciliary activity with optical coherence tomography.

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Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA ; Biomedical Research Imaging Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Muco-ciliary transport in the human airway is a crucial defense mechanism for removing inhaled pathogens. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is well-suited to monitor functional dynamics of cilia and mucus on the airway epithelium. Here we demonstrate several OCT-based methods upon an actively transporting in vitro bronchial epithelial model and ex vivo mouse trachea. We show quantitative flow imaging of optically turbid mucus, semi-quantitative analysis of the ciliary beat frequency, and functional imaging of the periciliary layer. These may translate to clinical methods for endoscopic monitoring of muco-ciliary transport in diseases such as cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).


(110.0113) Imaging through turbid media; (110.4153) Motion estimation and optical flow; (110.6150) Speckle imaging; (170.2655) Functional monitoring and imaging; (170.3880) Medical and biological imaging; (170.4500) Optical coherence tomography

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