Ciliary Beat Frequency: Proceedings and Recommendations from a Multi-laboratory Ring Trial Using 3-D Reconstituted Human Airway Epithelium to Model Mucociliary Clearance

Altern Lab Anim. 2022 Jul;50(4):293-309. doi: 10.1177/02611929221114383. Epub 2022 Aug 7.


The use of reconstituted human airway (RHuA) epithelial tissues to assess functional endpoints is highly relevant in respiratory toxicology, but standardised methods are lacking. In June 2015, the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS) held a technical workshop to evaluate the potential for standardisation of methods, including ciliary beat frequency (CBF). The applicability of a protocol suggested in the workshop was assessed in a multi-laboratory ring study. This report summarises the findings, and uses the similarities and differences identified between the laboratories to make recommendations for researchers in the absence of a validated method. Two software platforms for the assessment of CBF were used - Sisson-Ammons Video Analysis (SAVA; Ammons Engineering, Clio, MI, USA) and ciliaFA (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA). Both were utilised for multiple read temperatures, one objective strength (10×) and up to four video captures per tissue, to assess their utility. Two commercial RHuA tissue cultures were used: MucilAir™ (Epithelix, Geneva, Switzerland) and EpiAirway™ (MatTek, Ashland, MA, USA). IL-13 and procaterol were used to induce CBF-specific responses as positive controls. Further testing addressed the impact of tissue acclimation duration, the number of capture fields and objective strengths on baseline CBF readings. Both SAVA and ciliaFA reliably collected CBF data. However, ciliaFA failed to generate accurate CBF measurements above ∼10 Hz. The positive controls were effective, but were subject to inter-laboratory variability. CBF endpoints were generally uniform across replicate tissues, objective strengths and laboratories. Longer tissue acclimation increased the percentage active area, but had minimal impact on CBF. Taken together, these findings support the development and validation of a standardised CBF measurement protocol.

Keywords: 3-D tissue function; IIVS workshop proceedings; assay optimisation; ciliary beat frequency; in vitro airway epithelium; mucociliary clearance marker; non-animal testing; reconstituted human airways; respiratory toxicology.

MeSH terms

  • Cilia*
  • Epithelium
  • Humans
  • Laboratories
  • Mucociliary Clearance*
  • Software
  • United States