Effects of normobaric oxygen on ciliary beat frequency of human respiratory epithelium

A. Stanek, A. M. Brambrink, F. Latorre, B. Bender, P. P. Kleemann

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13 Scopus citations


Respiratory infection is a major cause of morbidity after general anaesthesia. Impairment of respiratory ciliary beat frequency (CBF) by different stress factors causes a decrease in mucus transport rate (MTR). We have tested the effect of different concentrations of oxygen on CBF of human respiratory epithelium in a prospective, randomized, in vitro study. Samples of superficial mucosa of the inferior nasal turbinates of 20 non-smoking healthy volunteers were harvested and exposed to three different oxygen environments (group I = 21% oxygen, group II = 60% oxygen and group III = 95% oxygen) for 2 h. In 50% of the samples, exposure time was prolonged. At 30, 60, 90, 120 and 240 min, light microscopic images of cilia activity were videotaped and CBF was later assessed in slow motion. Compared with baseline, group showed no difference in CBF throughout the study. CBF was increased in group II from mean 9.7 (SD 0.4) to 11.2 (0.4) Hz (16%, P < 0.001) and in group III from 9.5 (0.6) to 12.1 (0.5) Hz (28%, P < 0.001) at 120 min. After 240 min of exposure to 95% oxygen, the CBF trend in group III was reduced to 11.8 (0.6) Hz but still remained above baseline. We conclude that oxygen appeared to have a dose- and time-dependent accelerating effect on CBF. Prolonged exposure to high oxygen concentrations reversed this trend. Direct oxygen toxicity ('oxygen stress') is a possible explanation for this effect. These changes may result in impaired MTR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)660-664
Number of pages5
JournalBritish journal of anaesthesia
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1998


  • Lung, mucus
  • Lung, trachea
  • Oxygen, toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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