Thorax 68:190-191 doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2012-202938
  • Chest clinic
  • Basic science for the chest physician

Electron tomography of respiratory cilia

  1. Claire Hogg
  1. Paediatric Respiratory Department, Royal Brompton Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Amelia Shoemark, Paediatric Respiratory Department, Royal Brompton Hospital, Sydney Street, London SW3 6NP, UK; a.shoemark{at}
  • Received 28 October 2012
  • Accepted 1 November 2012
  • Published Online First 28 November 2012


Cilia are organelles present on almost every cell within the body. In the respiratory tract, motile cilia line the epithelial surface and beat in a coordinated fashion to clear mucus from the airways. Mucociliary dysfunction is implicated in a number of lung diseases including cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectasis and primary ciliary dyskinesia. Recent microscopy advances such as electron tomography have developed our understanding of the structure and function of these important organelles. In this review we discuss electron tomography and its relevance to respiratory cilia.

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