Studies of the Elemental Composition of Airway Surface Liquid with Relevance to Cystic Fibrosis
Abstract: Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited disease with symptoms mainly in the respiratory tract. The airway epithelium is covered with a thin layer of fluid, the airway surface liquid (ASL). The volume and composition of ASL are important in the pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis. The composition of ASL was determined. Firstly, pig airways were analyzed by X-ray microanalysis in the frozen-hydrated state. Secondly, small Sephadex beads were left to absorb the ASL in situ and were analyzed by X-ray microanalysis. The Na and Cl concentrations in the ASL of the pig were close to those of these ions in serum. Rat tracheal ASL was hypotonic. However, rat nasal fluid was hypertonic with an extremely high concentration of K. The composition of the ASL could be influenced by pharmacological stimulation.The development of transgenic mouse models for CF may help to develop therapies for the disease. The composition of mouse ASL was investigated using different collection techniques. (1) beads mounted on filter paper, (2) beads randomly spread over the airway epithelium, and (3) beads spread over the epithelium with a syringe. No significant difference could be detected between these techniques, and mouse ASL was hypotonic. Calibration curves had to be made for each element of interest.Nasal fluid from healthy human volunteers was collected with: (1) a pipette, (2) filter paper, (3) cotton wool, or (4) Sephadex beads. Collection on filter paper and equilibration with Sephadex beads gave reliable results. The Na and Cl concentrations in nasal fluid of control subjects were about the same as in serum, but the K concentration was higher. Rhinitis or primary ciliary dyskinesia patients and CF heterozygotes had abnormally high concentrations of Na and Cl in their nasal fluid (probably due to inflammation of the nasal epithelium), and CF homozygotes had even higher concentrations of Na and Cl.
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