New researchers in respiratory medicine have now got access to clear and helpful advice on ciliary function analysis, thanks to a new paper from a Faculty of Medicine scientist.

Cilia are moving ‘hair-like’ structures that line the surface of several body tissues.  In the airway, their organised beating acts to clear mucus and trapped inhaled pathogens or particulates out from the lungs like a moving ‘escalator’.

Ciliary function analysis involves using bespoke high-resolution, high-magnification, high-speed video microscopy to observe, describe and measure how cilia move.

High-speed video microscopy analysis of airway cilia is an important tool to help diagnose primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD); a rare inherited disorder of cilia (a ciliopathy) that causes a lack of lung mucus clearance, repeated airway infection and progressive damage. 

The new paper published in the European Respiratory Journal was written by Dr Claire Jackson (@_Claire_Jackson), Senior Research Fellow and Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia Team Scientist in our Faculty of Medicine alongside Dr Mathieu Bottier (@mathieu_bottier) from the University of Dundee.

Dr Jackson said: “Ciliary function analysis is key in helping diagnose PCD, which enables these patients to access appropriate treatment for their airway infections and lung condition. We also use this technique to research the effects of drugs and infection on the integrity of cilia on cultured airway samples.”

“In our new paper, we advise on how these state-of-the-art methods need to be standardised and how ciliary function analysis can be applied.  Key future developments would be to standardise the language used to describe ciliary movement, and provision of commercial tools for better automated quantitative analysis of cilia.”

Claire Jackson

State-of-the-art methods for the assessment of human airway ciliary function

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