A Periciliary Brush Promotes the Lung Health by Separating the Mucus Layer from Airway Epithelia

Journal Article (Academic article)

Mucus clearance is the primary defense mechanism that protects airways from inhaled infectious and toxic agents. In the current gel-on-liquid mucus clearance model, a mucus gel is propelled on top of a " watery " periciliary layer surrounding the cilia. However, this model fails to explain the formation of a distinct mucus layer in health or why mucus clearance fails in disease. We propose a gel-on-brush model in which the periciliary layer is occupied by membrane-spanning mucins and mucopolysaccharides densely tethered to the airway surface. This brush prevents mucus penetration into the periciliary space and causes mucus to form a distinct layer. The relative osmotic moduli of the mucus and periciliary brush layers explain both the stability of mucus clearance in health and its failure in airway disease.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Button, B; Cai, L-H; Ehre, C; Kesimer, M; Hill, DB; Sheehan, JK; Boucher, RC; Rubinstein, M

Published Date

  • August 24, 2012

Published In

Start / End Page

  • 937 - 941

Published By

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1674-7305

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1126/science.1223012