Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Airway cells use 'tasting' mechanism to detect and clear harmful substances

28.07.2009
The same mechanism that helps you detect bad-tasting and potentially poisonous foods may also play a role in protecting your airway from harmful substances, according to a study by scientists at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. The findings could help explain why injured lungs are susceptible to further damage.

The study, published online July 23 in Science Express, shows that receptors for bitter compounds that are found in taste buds on the tongue also are found in hair-like protrusions on airway cells.

In addition, the scientists showed that, unlike taste cells on the tongue, these airway cells do not need help from the nervous system to translate detection of bitter taste into an action that expels the harmful substance.

The hair-like protrusions, called motile cilia, were already known to beat in a wave-like motion to sweep away mucus, bacteria and other foreign particles from the lungs.

The study is the first to show that motile cilia on airway cells not only have this "clearing" function, but also use the receptors to play a sensory role. The researchers also found that when the receptors detect bitter compounds, the cilia beat faster, suggesting that the sensing and the motion capabilities of these cellular structures are linked.

"On the tongue, bitter substances trigger taste cells to stimulate neurons, which then evoke a response -- the perception of a bitter taste. In contrast, the airway cells appear to use a different mechanism that does not require nerves," said Alok Shah, a UI graduate student and co-first author of the study. "In the airways, bitter substances both activate the receptors and elicit a response -- the increased beating of the cilia -- designed to eliminate the offending material."

Shah and co-first author Yehuda Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biology at Washington University who was a postdoctoral fellow at the UI when the study was conducted, worked in the lab of senior study author Michael Welsh, M.D. (photo, upper left), UI professor of internal medicine and molecular physiology and biophysics, who holds the Roy J. Carver Chair of Internal Medicine and Physiology and Biophysics. Welsh also is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

"These findings suggest that we have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to guard ourselves from harmful environmental stimuli," Ben-Shahar said. "Our work also suggests that losing cilia in the lungs, due to smoking or disease, would result in a reduced general ability to detect harmful inhaled chemicals, increasing the likelihood of further damaging an injured lung."

In addition to Ben-Shahar, Shah and Welsh, the UI team included Thomas Moninger, assistant director of the UI Central Microscopy Research Facility, and Joel Kline, M.D., UI professor of internal medicine.

The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Care Media Relations, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer Brown, 319-356-7124, jennifer-l-brown@uiowa.edu

Jennifer Brown | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uiowa.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>