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Normal murine respiratory tract has its mucus concentrated in clouds based on the Muc5b mucin

Journal article
Authors Dalia Fakih
Ana Rodriguez-Piñeiro
Sergio Trillo-Muyo
C. M. Evans
Anna Ermund
Gunnar C. Hansson
Published in American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Volume 318
Issue 6
Pages L1270-L1279
ISSN 1040-0605
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Pages L1270-L1279
Language en
Keywords airway, bronchi, mucus bundles, submucosal glands, trachea, mucociliary clearance, airway, transport, model, Physiology, Respiratory System
Subject categories Respiratory Medicine and Allergy


The organization of the normal airway mucus system differs in small experimental animals from that in humans and large mammals. To address normal murine airway mucociliary clearance, Alcian blue-stained mucus transport was measured ex vivo on tracheal tissues of naive C57BL/6, Muc5b(-/-), Muc5ac(-/-), and EGFP-tagged Muc5b reporter mice. Close to the larynx with a few submucosal glands, the mucus appeared as thick bundles. More distally in the trachea and in large bronchi, Alcian blue-stained mucus was organized in cloud-like formations based on the Muc5b mucin. On tilted tissue, the mucus clouds moved upward toward the larynx with an average velocity of 12 mu m/s compared with 20 mu m/s for beads not associated with clouds. In Muc5ac(-/-) mice, Muc5b formed mucus strands attached to the tissue surface, while in Muc5b(-/-) mice, Muc5ac had a more variable appearance. The normal mouse lung mucus thus appears as discontinuous clouds, clearly different from the stagnant mucus layer in diseased lungs.

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