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Hydrodynamic model of directional ciliary-beat organization in human airways

Abstract : In the lung, the airway surface is protected by mucus, whose transport and evacuation is ensured through active ciliary beating. the mechanisms governing the long-range directional organization of ciliary beats, required for effective mucus transport, are much debated. Here, we experimentally show on human bronchial epithelium reconstituted in-vitro that the dynamics of ciliary-beat orientation is closely connected to hydrodynamic effects. To examine the fundamental mechanisms of this self-organization process, we build a two-dimensional model in which the hydrodynamic coupling between cilia is provided by a streamwise-alignment rule governing the local orientation of the ciliary forcing. The model reproduces the emergence of the mucus swirls observed in the experiments. The predicted swirl sizes, which scale with the ciliary density and mucus viscosity, are in agreement with in-vitro measurements. A transition from the swirly regime to a long-range unidirectional mucus flow allowing effective clearance occurs at high ciliary density and high mucus viscosity. In the latter case, the mucus flow tends to spontaneously align with the bronchus axis due to hydrodynamic effects.
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Simon Gsell, Etienne Loiseau, Umberto D’ortona, Annie Viallat, Julien Favier. Hydrodynamic model of directional ciliary-beat organization in human airways. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2020, 10 (8405), ⟨10.1038/s41598-020-64695-w⟩. ⟨hal-02614711⟩

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