Heterogeneity of the composition and thickness of ...



Title Heterogeneity of the composition and thickness of tracheal mucus in rats
Author(s) David E. Sims, M. M. Horne
Journal The American Journal of Physiology
Date 1997
Volume 273
Issue 5 Pt 1
Start page L1036
End page 41
Abstract Inability to preserve airway mucus in situ has limited our understanding of its structure and function. This light- and transmission electron-microscopic study of rat tracheal mucus used a nonaqueous fixative that retains mucus (epiphase) over a lucent layer (hypophase). The fixative is a 1% solution of osmium tetroxide dissolved in a perfluorocarbon. The mean thickness of rat tracheal epiphase was 5 microns, with significant variation (0.1-50 microns) around the tracheal circumference. Tracheal mucus was thickest at the trachealis muscle region and contained cells, cellular debris, and a variable amount of surfactant and lipid, estimated at 4-16% of the total epiphase in five rats, with a mean composition of 9%. Lipid was observed on the surface of the epiphase, embedded within mucus, and at the epiphase-hypophase interface. Refined study of developmental, physiological, and pathological alterations to the airway coat may benefit from this approach.

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