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Original Research: GENETIC AND DEVELOPMENTAL DISORDERS |

Cooling of Cilia Allows Functional Analysis of the Beat Pattern for Diagnostic TestingTemperature and Ciliary Function

Claire M. Smith, PhD; Robert A. Hirst, PhD; Michael J. Bankart, PhD; David W. Jones; Andrew J. Easton, PhD; Peter W. Andrew, PhD; Christopher O’Callaghan, PhD
Author and Funding Information

From the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation (Drs Smith, Hirst, Andrew, and O’Callaghan), Institute of Lung Health (Dr O’Callaghan), and Division of Child Health (Drs Smith, Hirst, and O’Callaghan), University of Leicester, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester; Department of Health Sciences (Dr Bankart); and Biomedical Joint Workshops (Mr Jones), University of Leicester, Leicester; and School of Life Sciences (Dr Easton), University of Warwick, Warwick, England.

Correspondence to: Christopher O’Callaghan, PhD, Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, Robert Kilpatrick Clinical Sciences Bldg, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester, LE2 7LX, England; e-mail: ajb64@le.ac.uk


Funding/Support: This study was supported by generous grants from Action Medical Research [Grant SP4118] and The Henry Smith Charity.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (http://www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


© 2011 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2011;140(1):186-190. doi:10.1378/chest.10-1920
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Background:  Reports of the effect of low temperatures on ciliary beat frequency (CBF) are conflicting, and the effect on ciliary beat pattern has not been reported. We aimed to clarify this association and determine whether cooling of cilia may allow ciliary function to be assessed without the need of expensive high-speed video microscopy.

Methods:  Fourteen nasal brush biopsy samples were collected, and the CBF and beat pattern of undisrupted ciliated edges were evaluated. Two methods were used to strictly control changes in temperature: One enabled rapid transitory measurements during cooling and warming, and the other was used to maintain accurate low temperatures over longer periods of time.

Results:  A sigmoid relationship between CBF and temperature was observed. CBF decreased with cooling and increased with warming. Ciliary function was unaffected by the direction of temperature change and was maintained down to 2°C. The percentage of dyskinetic cilia observed at 2°C or 4°C was unchanged from that at 37°C.

Conclusions:  Contrary to previous research, our data show that cilia continue to beat with a normal pattern at temperatures as low as 2°C. Slowing of cilia by cooling may allow detailed analysis of ciliary beat pattern without the need of expensive high-speed video microscopy.

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