The ciliated epithelium is important to the human respiratory system because it clears mucus that contains harmful microorganisms and particulate matter. We report the ex vivo visualization of human trachea/bronchi ciliated epithelium and induced flow characterized by using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT). A total number of 17 samples from 7 patients were imaged. Samples were obtained from Columbia University Department of Anesthesiology’s tissue bank. After excision, the samples were placed in Gibco Medium 199 solution with oxygen at 4°C until imaging. The samples were maintained at 36.7°C throughout the experiment. The imaging protocol included obtaining 3D volumes and 200 consecutive B-scans parallel to the head-to-feet direction (superior-inferior axis) of the airway, using Thorlabs Telesto system at 1300 nm at 28 kHz A-line rate and a custom built high resolution SDOCT system at 800nm at 32 kHz A-line rate. After imaging, samples were processed with H and E histology. Speckle variance of the time resolved datasets demonstrate significant contrast at the ciliated epithelium sites. Flow images were also obtained after injecting 10μm polyester beads into the solution, which shows beads traveling trajectories near the ciliated epithelium areas. In contrary, flow images taken in the orthogonal plane show no beads traveling trajectories. This observation is in line with our expectation that cilia drive flow predominantly along the superior-inferior axis. We also observed the protective function of the mucus, shielding the epithelium from the invasion of foreign objects such as microspheres. Further studies will be focused on the cilia’s physiological response to environmental changes such as drug administration and physical injury.
Yuye Ling, Uta A. Gamm, Xinwen Yao, Emilio Arteaga-Solis, Charles W. Emala, Michael A. Choma, and Christine P. Hendon, "Visualization of ex vivo human ciliated epithelium and induced flow using optical coherence tomography (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10041, Optical Techniques in Pulmonary Medicine II, 1004106 (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 28, 2017; Published: 19 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2253045.5370042038001.
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