Science Fun of the Week
(June 30th, 2017) Get ready for your weekly dose of science fun. Today: Riot in the Respiratory Tract.
“H&E™ records proudly announce the debut punk rock album ‘Anarchy in the Airway’. The cell in this image is one of your respiratory epithelial cells. It was obtained during a bronchoscopy. The doctor observed something unusual on the mucosal lining of the bronchus during the bronchoscopy and decided to get a sample by introducing a small brush into the airway and scraping the mucosa to pull off some cells. Normal bronchial cells, like Sid Viscous here, are columnar and have a distinctive mohawk of apical cilia. The cilia are an important feature of respiratory epithelial cells. Any small particles that were inhaled get trapped in the sticky mucus that covers the airway. The cilia then move to propel the mucus and the trapped particles away from your lungs and into the nasal cavity/oral cavity to be swallowed/sneezed/blown/picked* (*delete as appropriate). This essentially stops you from getting a lung infection every time you breath in. The punk name for this structural/functional interplay between sticky mucous and swaying cilia is the ‘mucociliary escalator’ because, like an escalator, the cilia keep on moving that mucus up and out. Rock on.”