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Biorheology. 1987;24(6):557-63.

Rheological properties controlling mucociliary frequency and respiratory mucus transport.

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  • 1Groupe d'Etude des Systèmes Muco-Ciliaires INSERM U314, Faculté de Médecine, Reims, France.


Respiratory mucus and mucosa possess highly hydrophilic structures which are difficult to preserve using standard fixative methods. The close interaction between cilia and mucus can be observed after instantaneously interrupting the ciliary movement using ultra rapid and cryosubstitution fixation methods. Mucus possess several rheological properties such as pseudoplasticity, elastothixotropy, spinability and adhesiveness. Rheological properties of mucus may control, per se, the ciliary beating frequency. By measuring the mucociliary frequency on the excised mucus-depleted frog palate of native mucus and xanthan gum using a simulant of mucus, we observed that beyond an optimal value of viscosity (close to 12 Pa.s) the mucociliary frequency and transport rate decrease in parallel. Other rheological factors such as adhesion and spinability of mucus can also be implicated in the regulation of the mucociliary transport rate.

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