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Type: Journal article
Title: High-resolution mucociliary transport measurement in live excised large animal trachea using synchrotron X-ray imaging
Author: Donnelley, M.
Morgan, K.
Awadalla, M.
Farrow, N.
Hall, C.
Parsons, D.
Citation: Respiratory Research, 2017; 18(1):95-1-95-11
Publisher: BioMed Central
Issue Date: 2017
ISSN: 1465-9921
Statement of
Martin Donnelley, Kaye S. Morgan, Maged Awadalla, Nigel R. Farrow, Chris Hall and David W. Parsons
Abstract: Background: The Australian Synchrotron Imaging and Medical Beamline (IMBL) was designed as the world's widest synchrotron X-ray beam, enabling both clinical imaging and therapeutic applications for humans as well as the imaging of large animal models. Our group is developing methods for imaging the airways of newly developed CF animal models that display human-like lung disease, such as the CF pig, and we expect that the IMBL can be utilised to image airways in animals of this size. Methods: This study utilised samples of excised tracheal tissue to assess the feasibility, logistics and protocols required for airway imaging in large animal models such as pigs and sheep at the IMBL. We designed an image processing algorithm to automatically track and quantify the tracheal mucociliary transport (MCT) behaviour of 103 μm diameter high refractive index (HRI) glass bead marker particles deposited onto the surface of freshly-excised normal sheep and pig tracheae, and assessed the effects of airway rehydrating aerosols. Results: We successfully accessed and used scavenged tracheal tissue, identified the minimum bead size that is visible using our chosen imaging setup, verified that MCT could be visualised, and that our automated tracking algorithm could quantify particle motion. The imaging sequences show particles propelled by cilia, against gravity, up the airway surface, within a well-defined range of clearance speeds and with examples of 'clumping' behaviour that is consistent with the in vivo capture and mucus-driven transport of particles. Conclusion: This study demonstrated that the wide beam at the IMBL is suitable for imaging MCT in ex vivo tissue samples. We are now transitioning to in vivo imaging of MCT in live pigs, utilising higher X-ray energies and shorter exposures to minimise motion blur.
Keywords: Mucociliary transport; trachea; particle tracking; cystic fibrosis; phase contrast; X-ray imaging; synchrotron
Rights: © The Author(s). 2017 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
DOI: 10.1186/s12931-017-0573-2
Grant ID: ARC
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