Mucociliary and long-term particle clearance in airways of patients with immotile cilia

Respir Res. 2006 Jan 19;7(1):10. doi: 10.1186/1465-9921-7-10.


Spherical monodisperse ferromagnetic iron oxide particles of 1.9 microm geometric and 4.2 microm aerodynamic diameter were inhaled by seven patients with primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) using the shallow bolus technique, and compared to 13 healthy non-smokers (NS) from a previous study. The bolus penetration front depth was limiting to the phase1 dead space volume. In PCD patients deposition was 58+/-8 % after 8 s breath holding time. Particle retention was measured by the magnetopneumographic method over a period of nine months. Particle clearance from the airways showed a fast and a slow phase. In PCD patients airway clearance was retarded and prolonged, 42+/-12 % followed the fast phase with a mean half time of 16.8+/-8.6 hours. The remaining fraction was cleared slowly with a half time of 121+/-25 days. In healthy NS 49+/-9 % of particles were cleared in the fast phase with a mean half time of 3.0+/-1.6 hours, characteristic of an intact mucociliary clearance. There was no difference in the slow clearance phase between PCD patients and healthy NS. Despite non-functioning cilia the effectiveness of airway clearance in PCD patients is comparable to healthy NS, with a prolonged kinetics of one week, which may primarily reflect the effectiveness of cough clearance. This prolonged airway clearance allows longer residence times of bacteria and viruses in the airways and may be one reason for increased frequency of infections in PCD patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ciliary Motility Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Ciliary Motility Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Ferric Compounds / pharmacokinetics
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Lung Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Magnetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucociliary Clearance*
  • Respiratory Dead Space
  • Respiratory Function Tests / methods*


  • Ferric Compounds
  • ferric oxide