Mucous solids and liquid secretion by airways: Studies with normal pig, cystic fibrosis human, and non-cystic fibrosis human bronchi

Chelsea J. Martens, Sarah K. Inglis, Vincent G. Valentine, Jennifer Garrison, Gregory E. Conner, Stephen T. Ballard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


To better understand how airways produce thick airway mucus, nonvolatile solids were measured in liquid secreted by bronchi from normal pig, cystic fibrosis (CF) human, and non-CF human lungs. Bronchi were exposed to various secretagogues and anion secretion inhibitors to induce a range of liquid volume secretion rates. In all three groups, the relationship of solids concentration (percent nonvolatile solids) to liquid volume secretion rate was curvilinear, with higher solids concentration associated with lower rates of liquid volume secretion. In contrast, the secretion rates of solids mass and water mass as functions of liquid volume secretion rates exhibited positive linear correlations. The y-intercepts of the solids mass-liquid volume secretion relationships for all three groups were positive, thus accounting for the higher solids concentrations in airway liquid at low rates of secretion. Predictive models derived from the solids mass and water mass linear equations fit the experimental percent solids data for the three groups. The ratio of solids mass secretion to liquid volume secretion was 5.2 and 2.4 times higher for CF bronchi than for pig and non-CF bronchi, respectively. These results indicate that normal pig, non-CF human, and CF human bronchi produce a high-percent-solids mucus (>8%) at low rates of liquid volume secretion (μ1.0 cm-2·h-1). However, CF bronchi produce mucus with twice the percent solids (∼8%) of pig or non-CF human bronchi at liquid volume secretion rates ≤4.0 μl·cm-2·h-1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L236-L246
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Asthma
  • Cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator
  • Mucin
  • Mucus
  • Submucosal glands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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