Ciliary beat co-ordination by calcium

Biol Cell. 2011 Apr;103(4):159-69. doi: 10.1042/BC20100120.


Motile cilia in the airway epithelium are the engine for mucociliary clearance, the mechanism responsible for cleaning the airways from inhaled particles. Human airway epithelial cilia appear to have a slow constitutive rate of beating, driven by inherent and spontaneous dynein ATPase activity. Additionally, cilia can increase their beating frequency by activation of several different control mechanisms. One of these controllers is calcium. Its intracellular concentration is regulated by purinergic and acetylcholine receptors. Besides the rate regulatory effect of calcium on ciliary beat, calcium is also involved in synchronizing the beat among cilia of one single cell as well as between cilia on different cells. This article gives an overview of the complex effects of calcium on the beating of motile cilia in the airways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Cilia / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mucociliary Clearance
  • Respiratory Mucosa / physiology*


  • Calcium