The purpose of this investigation was to determine if abnormal ciliary function contributes to allergic mucociliary dysfunction. In conscious sheep with Ascaris suum hypersensitivity ciliated cells were obtained with a cytology brush and tracheal mucous velocity (TMV) was determined before and serially for 2 h following antigen inhalation. The recovered cells (also containing mast cells) were suspended in a chamber, and ciliary activity was viewed microscopically and recorded on videotape for subsequent slow-motion analysis of ciliary beat frequency (CBF). One hour after A. suum challenge mean CBF (±SE) showed a slight increase from a base-line value of 630 ± 16 to 716 ± 30 beats/min (P < 0.05) when mean TMV was decreased to 57% of baseline (P < 0.05). After 2 h, both mean CBF and TMV returned toward base line. Since possible in vivo actions of chemical mediators liberated by antigen challenge may have been lost after suspension of the brushed cells, we also assessed the effects of antigen on CBF in vitro. A. suum caused a dose-dependent increase in CBF that was blocked by cromolyn sodium. We conclude that 1) allergic mucociliary dysfunction is not caused by a decrease in CBF and 2) antigen induced release of chemical mediators increases CBF.
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