The reversibility of impaired mucociliary function after lung transplantation

D. Marelli, A. Paul, D. M. Nguyen, H. Shennib, M. King, N. S. Wang, J. A. Wilson, D. S. Mulder, R. C.J. Chiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Impairment of mucociliary function occurs after lung transplantation and may predispose patients to repeated pulmonary infections. The purpose of this study is to determine whether and how soon such mucociliary function may recover. Ten dogs underwent left lung autotransplantation. Within 3 weeks five of these dogs underwent study for proximal airway clearance by observation through a bronchoscope of the movement of carbon particles placed at different locations on the tracheobronchial mucosa. The mechanical properties of collected mucus from specific sites were determined by magnetic rheometry. The right lung, which was not operated on, served as a paired control. Similar studies were conducted in the remaining five dogs at 12 weeks after autotransplantation. Lung autotransplantation caused significant depression of proximal airway clearance and a 35% increase in mucous rigidity (p = 0.05) soon after operation. At 12 weeks after operation, there was a partial recovery of proximal airway clearance. Mucous changes were no longer consistent. Histologic and electron microscopic examinations initially revealed focal denudation of ciliated cells and loss of the bronchial glands. At 12 weeks there was a regeneration of cilia and a reappearance of the bronchial glands. We conclude that the mucociliary function, observed to be depressed early after lung autotransplantation, recovers partially during the late postoperative period. Thus the mucociliary functional recovery should be attributed to revascularization rather than to reinnervation, since the latter is unlikely to occur during this period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)908-912
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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