Developmental changes in the tracheal mucociliary system in neonatal sheep

R. J. Phipps, W. M. Abraham, A. T. Mariassy, P. J. Torrealba, M. W. Sielczak, A. Ahmed, M. McCray, J. S. Stevenson, A. Wanner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We studied the postnatal development of the tracheal epithelium and mucociliary system in neonatal sheep. Secretion of macromolecules (radiolabeled with 35SO4 and [3H]-threonine), unidirectional fluxes of Cl-, Na+, and water (measured with radioactive tracers), and ciliary beat frequency (CBF) were measured in tracheal tissues in vitro. Tracheal mucus transport velocity (TMV) was measured in vivo. Sheep were studied at 0, 2, 4, 8, and > 24 (adult) wk after birth. In newborn sheep trachea, secretion of macromolecules was significantly elevated (cf. adults), and there was basal net secretion of Cl- under short-circuit and open-circuit conditions. This induced open-circuit secretion of Na+. Secretion of macromolecules decreased rapidly by 2 wk (by 40-50%) and was not different from adult values by 4 wk. Active Na+ absorption developed rapidly, and from 2 wk onward it predominated under open-circuit conditions, inducing net Cl- absorption. These changes in secretory function were associated with an age-related increase in TMV, whereas inherent tracheal CBF was unchanged. In sheep, therefore, the newborn's trachea has elevated secretion of macromolecules and secretes Cl- and liquid under basal conditions. Normal secretory function (a reduction in secretion of macromolecules coupled with net absorption of ions and presumably of liquid also) approaches adult function by 2-4 wk of age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)824-832
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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