The Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, Eprints Archive

A model of tracer transport in airway surface liquid

Smith, D J and Gaffney, E. A. and Blake, J R (2007) A model of tracer transport in airway surface liquid. Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, 69 (3). pp. 817-836.



This study is concerned with reconciling theoretical modelling of the fluid flow in the airway surface liquid with experimental visualisation of tracer transport in human airway epithelial cultures. The airways are covered by a dense mat of cilia of length ∼ 6 μm beating in a watery periciliary liquid (PCL). Above this there is a layer of viscoelastic mucus which traps inhaled pathogens. Cilia propel mucus along the airway towards the trachea and mouth. Theoretical analyses of the beat cycle smithd, fulb predict small transport of PCL compared with mucus, based on the assumption that the epithelium is impermeable to fluid. However, an experimental study coord indicates nearly equal transport of PCL and mucus. Building on existing understanding of steady advection-diffusion in the ASL (Blake and Gaffney, 2001; Mitran,2004) numerical simulation of an advection-diffusion model of tracer transport is used to test several proposed flow profiles and to test the importance of oscillatory shearing caused by the beating cilia. A mechanically derived oscillatory flow with very low mean transport of PCL results in relatively little ‘smearing’ of the tracer pulses. Other effects such as mixing between the PCL and mucus, and significant transport in the upper part of the PCL above the cilia tips are tested and result in still closer transport, with separation between the tracer pulses in the two layers being less than 9%. Furthermore, experimental results may be replicated to a very high degree of accuracy if mean transport of PCL is only 50% of mucus transport, significantly less than the mean PCL transport first inferred on the basis of experimental results.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Mucus - Cilia - Tonicity - Advection - Diffusion - Dispersion
Subjects:A - C > Biology and other natural sciences
Research Groups:Centre for Mathematical Biology
ID Code:882
Deposited By: Eamonn Gaffney
Deposited On:14 Jan 2010 07:54
Last Modified:29 May 2015 18:34

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