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Airways in Action

Finding the right medium to grow airways cells with cilia in the lab

04 September 2020

Airways in Action

The air we breathe doesn't just contain gases but also dirt, debris and microbes. Thankfully the cells that line our airways have projections called cilia, which filter out these particles. In airway diseases, this process can be disturbed, which is why tissues with cilia are useful in lab studies of these diseases. However, it’s a challenge to maintain cilia in a dish. Here, researchers tested four different solutions in which cells can be grown to find out which is best at maintaining cilia. Cells were imaged using scanning electron microscopy (pictured), revealing that only one solution effectively maintained cilia (left) while the others didn't (examples middle and right). The winning solution succeeded because of the balance of high enough levels of the chemical retinoic acid and low levels of the chemicals VEGF, EGF and FGF-β. These results will help future researchers better study airway tissue and diseases in the lab.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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