A new index for characterizing micro-bead motion in a flow induced by ciliary beating: Part II, modeling

Mathieu Bottier, Marta Peña Fernández, Gabriel Pelle, Daniel Isabey, Bruno Louis, James B. Grotberg, Marcel Filoche*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Mucociliary clearance is one of the major lines of defense of the human respiratory system. The mucus layer coating the airways is constantly moved along and out of the lung by the activity of motile cilia, expelling at the same time particles trapped in it. The efficiency of the cilia motion can experimentally be assessed by measuring the velocity of micro-beads traveling through the fluid surrounding the cilia. Here we present a mathematical model of the fluid flow and of the micro-beads motion. The coordinated movement of the ciliated edge is represented as a continuous envelope imposing a periodic moving velocity boundary condition on the surrounding fluid. Vanishing velocity and vanishing shear stress boundary conditions are applied to the fluid at a finite distance above the ciliated edge. The flow field is expanded in powers of the amplitude of the individual cilium movement. It is found that the continuous component of the horizontal velocity at the ciliated edge generates a 2D fluid velocity field with a parabolic profile in the vertical direction, in agreement with the experimental measurements. Conversely, we show than this model can be used to extract microscopic properties of the cilia motion by extrapolating the micro-bead velocity measurement at the ciliated edge. Finally, we derive from these measurements a scalar index providing a direct assessment of the cilia beating efficiency. This index can easily be measured in patients without any modification of the current clinical procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1005552
JournalPLOS Computational Biology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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