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Event: 1909

Key Event Title

A descriptive phrase which defines a discrete biological change that can be measured. More help

Mucociliary Clearance, Decreased

Short name
The KE short name should be a reasonable abbreviation of the KE title and is used in labelling this object throughout the AOP-Wiki. More help
MCC, Decreased
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Biological Context

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Level of Biological Organization

Key Event Components

The KE, as defined by a set structured ontology terms consisting of a biological process, object, and action with each term originating from one of 14 biological ontologies (Ives, et al., 2017; Biological process describes dynamics of the underlying biological system (e.g., receptor signalling).Biological process describes dynamics of the underlying biological system (e.g., receptor signaling).  The biological object is the subject of the perturbation (e.g., a specific biological receptor that is activated or inhibited). Action represents the direction of perturbation of this system (generally increased or decreased; e.g., ‘decreased’ in the case of a receptor that is inhibited to indicate a decrease in the signaling by that receptor).  Note that when editing Event Components, clicking an existing Event Component from the Suggestions menu will autopopulate these fields, along with their source ID and description.  To clear any fields before submitting the event component, use the 'Clear process,' 'Clear object,' or 'Clear action' buttons.  If a desired term does not exist, a new term request may be made via Term Requests.  Event components may not be edited; to edit an event component, remove the existing event component and create a new one using the terms that you wish to add.  Further information on Event Components and Biological Context may be viewed on the attached pdf. More help
Process Object Action
mucociliary clearance trait decreased

Key Event Overview

AOPs Including This Key Event

All of the AOPs that are linked to this KE will automatically be listed in this subsection. This table can be particularly useful for derivation of AOP networks including the KE. Clicking on the name of the AOP will bring you to the individual page for that AOP. More help
AOP Name Role of event in AOP Point of Contact Author Status OECD Status
Oxidative stress Leading to Decreased Lung Function KeyEvent Karsta Luettich (send email) Open for comment. Do not cite
Ox stress-mediated CFTR/ASL/CBF/MCC impairment KeyEvent Karsta Luettich (send email) Open for comment. Do not cite
ox stress-mediated FOXJ1/cilia/CBF/MCC impairment KeyEvent Karsta Luettich (send email) Open for comment. Do not cite

Taxonomic Applicability

Latin or common names of a species or broader taxonomic grouping (e.g., class, order, family) that help to define the biological applicability domain of the KE.In many cases, individual species identified in these structured fields will be those for which the strongest evidence used in constructing the AOP was available in relation to this KE. More help
Term Scientific Term Evidence Link
Homo sapiens Homo sapiens High NCBI
Sus scrofa domesticus Sus scrofa domesticus Moderate NCBI
Ovis aries Ovis aries Moderate NCBI
Cavia porcellus Cavia porcellus Moderate NCBI
Canis lupus Canis lupus Moderate NCBI
Rana catesbeiana Rana catesbeiana Moderate NCBI
Oryctolagus cuniculus Oryctolagus cuniculus Moderate NCBI

Life Stages

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Life stage Evidence
All life stages High

Sex Applicability

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Term Evidence
Mixed High

Key Event Description

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In healthy adults, tracheal mucus movement varies from 4 to >20 mm/min (Stannard and O'Callaghan, 2006), whereas mucociliary clearance (MCC) in the small airways is slower due to the lower number of ciliated cells (fewer cilia) and their shorter length (Foster et al., 1980; Iravani, 1969; Wanner et al., 1996). Since optimal MCC is dependent in multiple factors, including cilia number and structure as well as ASL and mucus properties, any disturbances of these can lead to impaired MCC. While high humidity or infection can enhance MCC, long-term exposure to noxious substances (e.g. cigarette smoke) lead to decreased mucus clearance from the airways. In most instances this is reflected by decreased mucus transport rates or velocities.  

How It Is Measured or Detected

A description of the type(s) of measurements that can be employed to evaluate the KE and the relative level of scientific confidence in those measurements.These can range from citation of specific validated test guidelines, citation of specific methods published in the peer reviewed literature, or outlines of a general protocol or approach (e.g., a protein may be measured by ELISA). Do not provide detailed protocols. More help

In humans, MCC has been assessed traditionally following inhalation of radio-labeled particles such as 99Tcm-labeled polystyrene particles, resin particles or serum albumin and following their clearance at regular intervals by radioimaging using gamma cameras (Agnew et al., 1986; Kärjä et al., 1982). Taking into account inhalation volumes and flow rates, lung airflow, particle deposition and retention, clearance rates can be calculated and effects of e.g. drugs on MCC can be examined. Alternatively, since MCC occurs at a similar rate in the nose to that in trachea and bronchi (Andersen and Proctor, 1983; Rutland and Cole, 1981) and for ease of use, measurements of MCC can be restricted to that of nasal MCC only. Probably one of the simplest methods is the saccharin transit test (STT). For this test, a small particle of saccharin is placed behind the anterior end of the inferior turbinate. The saccharin will be transported by mucociliary action toward the nasopharynx, where its sweet taste is perceived. When MCC is impaired, saccharin transit times will increase, with a 10- to 20-minute delay being considered a clinical sign of decreased MCC. Using the same principle, the test can also be performed or complemented with dyes such as indigo carmine or methylene blue (Deborah and Prathibha, 2014).

In experimental animals, MCC has been evaluated by gamma-scintigraphy (Greiff et al., 1990; Hua et al., 2010; Read et al., 1992), fluorescence videography/fluoroscopy (in explanted tracheas etc.) (Grubb et al., 2016; Rogers  et al., 2018), or by 3D-SPECT (Ortiz Belda et al., 2016). Direct observation of particle movement across airway epithelia to determine mucus velocity or transport rates by using a fiberoptic bronchoscope may be helpful when working in larger animals such as dogs (King, 1998). In vitro, freshly excised frog palate preparations have been used to assess cilia function and mucociliary transport by videomicroscopy (Macchione et al., 1995; Macchione et al., 1999; Trindade et al., 2007). Murine and human nasal, bronchial and small airway epithelial models grown at the air-liquid interface are also suitable in vitro test systems for determining mucus transport by tracing inert particle movement with a set-up similar to that used for assessing CBF (Benam et al., 2018; Fliegauf et al., 2013; Knowles and Boucher, 2002; Sears et al., 2015).  

Domain of Applicability

A description of the scientific basis for the indicated domains of applicability and the WoE calls (if provided).  More help


List of the literature that was cited for this KE description. More help

Agnew, J., Sutton, P., Pavia, D. and Clarke, S. (1986). Radioaerosol assessment of mucociliary clearance: towards definition of a normal range. Brit. J. Radiol. 59, 147-151.

Allegra, L., Moavero, N., and Rampoldi, C. (1991). Ozone-induced impairment of mucociliary transport and its prevention with N-acetylcysteine. Am. J. Med. 91, S67-S71.

Andersen, I. and Proctor, D. (1983). Measurement of nasal mucociliary clearance. Eur. J. Respir. Dis. Suppl. 127, 37-40.

Baby, M.K., Muthu, P.K., Johnson, P., and Kannan, S. (2014). Effect of cigarette smoking on nasal mucociliary clearance: A comparative analysis using saccharin test. Lung India 31, 39-42. 

Benam, K.H., Vladar, E.K., Janssen, W.J. and Evans, C.M. (2018). Mucociliary defense: emerging cellular, molecular, and animal models. Ann. Am. Thorac. Soc. 15, S210-S215.

Deborah, S. and Prathibha, K., 2014. Measurement of nasal mucociliary clearance. Clin. Res. Pulmonol. 2, 1019.

Dülger, S., Akdeniz, Ö., Solmaz, F., Şengören Dikiş, Ö., and Yildiz, T. (2018). Evaluation of nasal mucociliary clearance using saccharin test in smokers: A prospective study. Clin. Respir. J. 12, 1706-1710. 

Fliegauf, M., Sonnen, A.F.P., Kremer, B. and Henneke, P. (2013). Mucociliary Clearance Defects in a Murine In Vitro Model of Pneumococcal Airway Infection. PloS ONE 8, e59925.

Fló-Neyret, C., Lorenzi-Filho, G., Macchione, M., Garcia, M.L.B. and Saldiva, P.H.N. (2001). Effects of formaldehyde on the frog's mucociliary epithelium as a surrogate to evaluate air pollution effects on the respiratory epithelium. Braz. J. Med. Biol. Res. 34, 639-643.

Foster, W., Langenback, E. and Bergofsky, E. (1980). Measurement of tracheal and bronchial mucus velocities in man: relation to lung clearance. J. Appl. Physiol. 48, 965-971.

Greiff, L., Wollmer, P., Erjefält, I., Pipkorn, U. and Persson, C. (1990). Clearance of 99mTc DTPA from guinea pig nasal, tracheobronchial, and bronchoalveolar airways. Thorax 45, 841-845.

Grubb, B.R., Livraghi-Butrico, A., Rogers, T.D., Yin, W., Button, B. and Ostrowski, L.E. (2016). Reduced mucociliary clearance in old mice is associated with a decrease in Muc5b mucin. Am. J. Physiol. Lung Cell. Mol. Physiol. 310, L860-L867.

Habesoglu, M., Demir, K., Yumusakhuylu, A.C., Sahin Yilmaz, A., and Oysu, C. (2012). Does passive smoking have an effect on nasal mucociliary clearance? Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 147, 152-156.

Hua, X., Zeman, K.L., Zhou, B., Hua, Q., Senior, B.A., Tilley, S.L., et al. (2010). Noninvasive real-time measurement of nasal mucociliary clearance in mice by pinhole gamma scintigraphy. J. Appl. Physiol. 108, 189-196.

Iravani, J. (1969). Zum Mechanismus der Ortsabhängigkeit der Flimmeraktivität im Bronchialbaum/Location-Dependent Activity of the Ciliary Movement in the Bronchial Tree and its Possible Mechanism. In: Habermann E. et al. (eds) Naunyn Schmiedebergs Archiv für Pharmakologie. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Kakinoki Y, Ohashi Y, Tanaka A, Washio Y, Yamada K, Nakai Y, Morimoto K. (1998). Nitrogen dioxide compromises defence functions of the airway epithelium. Acta Oto-Laryngol. 118, 221-226.

Kärjä, J., Nuutinen, J. and Karjalainen, P. (1982). Radioisotopic Method for Measurement of Nasal Mucociliary Activity. Arch. Otolaryngol. 108, 99-101.

King, M. (1998). Experimental models for studying mucociliary clearance. Eur. Respir. J. 11, 222-228.

Knorst, M.M., Kienast, K., Riechelmann, H., Müller-Quernheim, J. and Ferlinz, R. (1994). Effect of sulfur dioxide on mucociliary activity and ciliary beat frequency in guinea pig trachea. Int. Arch. Occup. Environm. Health 65, 325-328.

Knowles, M.R. and Boucher, R.C. (2002). Mucus clearance as a primary innate defense mechanism for mammalian airways. J. Clin. Invest. 109, 571-577.

Macchione, M., Guimarães, E., Saldiva, P. and Lorenzi-Filho, G. (1995). Methods for studying respiratory mucus and mucus clearance. Braz. J. Med. Biol Res. 28, 1347.

Macchione, M., Oliveira, A.P., Gallafrio, C.T., Muchão, F.P., Obara, M.T., Guimarães, E.T., et al. (1999). Acute effects of inhalable particles on the frog palate mucociliary epithelium. Environm. Health Persp. 107, 829-833.

Morgan, K., Patterson, D. and Gross, E. (1986). Responses of the nasal mucociliary apparatus of F-344 rats to formaldehyde gas. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 82, 1-13.

Morgan, K.T., Patterson, D.L. and Gross, E.A. (1984). Frog palate mucociliary apparatus: structure, function, and response to formaldehyde gas. Fund. Appl. Toxicol. 4, 58-68.

Ortiz Belda, J.L., Ortiz, A., Milara Payá, J., Armengot Carceller, M., Sanz García, C., Compañ Quilis, D., et al. (2016). Evaluation of Mucociliary Clearance by Three Dimension Micro-CT-SPECT in Guinea Pig: Role of Bitter Taste Agonists. Plos ONE 11, e0164399.

Pagliuca, G., Rosato, C., Martellucci, S., De Vincentiis, M., Greco, A., Fusconi, M., et al. (2015). Cytologic and functional alterations of nasal mucosa in smokers: temporary or permanent damage? Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 152, 740-745.

Proença, M., Xavier, R.F., Ramos, D., Cavalheri, V., Pitta, F., and Ramos, E.C. (2011). Immediate and short term effects of smoking on nasal mucociliary clearance in smokers. Revista Portuguesa de Pneumologia (English Edition) 17), 172-176.

Read, R.C., Roberts, P., Munro, N., Rutman, A., Hastie, A., Shryock, T., et al. (1992). Effect of Pseudomonas aeruginosa rhamnolipids on mucociliary transport and ciliary beating. J. Appl. Physiol. 72, 2271-2277.

Rogers, T.D., Ostrowski, L.E., Livraghi-Butrico, A., Button, B. and Grubb, B.R., 2018. Mucociliary clearance in mice measured by tracking trans-tracheal fluorescence of nasally aerosolized beads. Sci. Rep. 8, 1-12.

Rutland, J. and Cole, P.J. (1981). Nasal mucociliary clearance and ciliary beat frequency in cystic fibrosis compared with sinusitis and bronchiectasis. Thorax 36, 654-658.

Sears, P.R., Yin, W.-N. and Ostrowski, L.E. (2015). Continuous mucociliary transport by primary human airway epithelial cells in vitro. Am. J. Physiol. Lung Cell. Mol. Physiol. 309, L99-L108.

Solak, I., Marakoglu, K., Pekgor, S., Kargin, N.C., Alataş, N., and Eryilmaz, M.A. (2018). Nasal mucociliary activity changes in smokers. Konuralp Med. J. 10, 269-275.

Stannard, W. and O'callaghan, C. (2006). Ciliary function and the role of cilia in clearance. J. Aerosol Med. 19, 110-115.

Trindade, S.H.K., De Mello Júnior, J.F., De Godoy Mion, O., Lorenzi-Filho, G., Macchione, M., Guimarães, E.T., et al. (2007). Methods for Studying Mucociliary Transport. Braz. J. Otorhinolaryngol. 73, 704-712.

Wanner, A., Salathe, M. and O'riordan, T.G. (1996). Mucociliary clearance in the airways. Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 154, 1868-1902.

Xavier, R.F., Ramos, D., Ito, J.T., Rodrigues, F.M., Bertolini, G.N., Macchione, M., et al. (2013). Effects of cigarette smoking intensity on the mucociliary clearance of active smokers. Respiration 86, 479-485. 

Yadav, J., and Kaushik, G. (2014). K Ranga R. Passive smoking affects nasal mucociliary clearance. J. Indian Acad. Clin. Med. 15, 96-99.

Yeates, D.B., Katwala, S.P., Daugird, J., Daza, A.V. and Wong, L.B. (1997). Excitatory and inhibitory neural regulation of tracheal ciliary beat frequency (CBF) activated by ammonia vapour and SO2. Ann. Occup. Hyg. 41, 736-744.