Mucus secretion and cytoskeletal modifications in cultured nasal epithelial cells exposed to wall shear stresses

Biophys J. 2008 Sep 15;95(6):2998-3008. doi: 10.1529/biophysj.107.127142. Epub 2008 May 16.


The nasal epithelium is continuously subjected to wall shear stresses (WSS) induced by respiratory airflows. An in vitro experimental model was developed to expose nasal epithelial cells cultured under air-liquid interface conditions to steady airflow-induced WSS. Mucus secretion from epithelial goblet cells was quantified using an enzyme-linked lectinosorbent assay, and modifications of the cytoskeletal structure were qualitatively evaluated from fluorescent stains of actin and beta-tubulin fibers. The results show increased mucus secretion from cells subjected to WSS of 0.1 and 1.0 dyne/cm(2) for more than 15 min in comparison with unstressed cells. The integrity levels of beta-tubulin fibers were significantly lower in cells subjected to WSS than in unstressed cells. The increased mucus secretion in response to WSS was approximately the same in Taxol-free and Taxol-treated cultures, which indicates that there is no direct connection between beta-tubulin fragmentation and mucus secretion. The stressed cells regained their normal cytoskeletal appearance 24 h after the exposure to WSS. The results of this study suggest that WSS have an important role in the mechanical regulation of the nasal surface epithelium function.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cattle
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mucus / metabolism*
  • Nasal Cavity / cytology
  • Nasal Cavity / metabolism
  • Nasal Mucosa / cytology*
  • Nasal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Pulmonary Ventilation
  • Respiration