We know that primary cilia occur in just about every cell . . . and that in many cells these more-or-less nonmotile primary cilia have a sensory function. For example—in the sense of taste. But did you know that the motile cilia found in the lungs have a sensory function, too?
New research shows that the motile cilia of the respiratory airways can sense bitter-tasting molecules . . . a good sign that the molecule is potentially toxic. And researchers showed that these cilia then begin beating faster in response to the bitter compounds.
Yikes! That means that when cilia sense a toxin right there in a specific spot in the airway, they can quickly brush it out of there. Hmmm. How elegant.
Want to know more?
Airway cilia taste toxins
Posted by Bob Grant
The Scientist 23rd July 2009
[Summary of the new findings]
Motile Cilia of Human Airway Epithelia Are Chemosensory
Alok S. Shah, et al.
Science Published Online July 23, 2009 DOI: 10.1126/science.1173869
[The original research article]
BONUS . . .
Click here for a FREE image of bronchiolar cilia (SEM) that you can use in your course.