Pitt team gets the beat, develops method of quantifying ciliary movement

August 05, 2015

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 5, 2015 - Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have figured out how to objectively quantify the beating action of cilia, the tiny, hair-like projections on cells that line nasal passages, the lungs and almost every other body tissue, according to a study published online today in Science Translational Medicine. Such digital signatures could help doctors more quickly and accurately diagnose ciliary motion (CM) defects, which can cause severe respiratory airway clearance defects and also developmental defects including congenital heart disease.

Currently, doctors try to identify CM defects using video-microscopy or indirectly via the examination of cilia ultrastructural defects using electron microscopy. This usually entails analysis of cilia movement in respiratory cells obtained from nasal passages, explained senior investigator Chakra Chennubhotla, Ph.D., assistant professor of computational and systems biology, Pitt School of Medicine.

"Visual reviews like these can be subjective, time-consuming and error-prone," he said. "In this project, our team used computational methods to objectively and reliably identify CM defects."

The researchers used two independent data sets - one from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC (CHP) and the other from Children's National Medical Center (CNMC) in Washington, D.C. - from healthy individuals as well as patients already diagnosed with either congenital heart disease or primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) to identify the digital signatures of normal and abnormal movement, accounting for factors such as how frequently the cilia beat back and forth, the breadth and rotation of their beat pattern, and their synchronicity.

The researchers then validated their technique by testing the patient samples in blind fashion, finding that the computational tool correctly identified more than 90 percent of PCD cases at CHP and all of the cases at CNMC. PCD is a rare condition in which the cilia are immotile or beat abnormally, leading to limitation of airway mucus clearance, compromised respiratory function and increased risk for lung infections and other bronchial problems.

"We hope to start a clinical trial in which doctors from around the country can upload a video of their patient's nasal lining to a website for assessment of ciliary motion with this technique," said co-investigator Cecilia Lo, Ph.D., Dr. F. Sargent Cheever Professor and chair of Developmental Biology, Pitt School of Medicine. "If successful, this approach may in the future serve as a rapid first-tier screen to identify at-risk patients."
-end-
Team members included Maliha Zahid, M.D., Ph.D., John Durkin, M.D., and Richard Francis, Ph.D., all of the University of Pittsburgh; and Shannon Quinn, Ph.D., now a faculty member at the University of Georgia.

The project was funded by National Institutes of Health grants HL-098180 and GM104412-01A1, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

About the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

As one of the nation's leading academic centers for biomedical research, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine integrates advanced technology with basic science across a broad range of disciplines in a continuous quest to harness the power of new knowledge and improve the human condition. Driven mainly by the School of Medicine and its affiliates, Pitt has ranked among the top 10 recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1998. In rankings recently released by the National Science Foundation, Pitt ranked fifth among all American universities in total federal science and engineering research and development support.

Likewise, the School of Medicine is equally committed to advancing the quality and strength of its medical and graduate education programs, for which it is recognized as an innovative leader, and to training highly skilled, compassionate clinicians and creative scientists well-equipped to engage in world-class research. The School of Medicine is the academic partner of UPMC, which has collaborated with the University to raise the standard of medical excellence in Pittsburgh and to position health care as a driving force behind the region's economy. For more information about the School of Medicine, see http://www.medschool.pitt.edu.

http://www.upmc.com/media

Contact: Anita Srikameswaran
Phone: 412-578-9193
E-mail: SrikamAV@upcm.edu

Contact: Amy Charley
Phone: 412-586-9778
E-mail: CharleyA@upcm.edu

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Related Cilia Articles from Brightsurf:

Are the movements of tiny hairlike structures a key to our health?
New research from USC scholars identifies the mechanisms in play for cilia to work effectively and productively to push particles and fluid along, which is especially important given their critical role in health and in even ensuring reproduction.

Research reveals cilia's role in cardiovascular functions and genetic diseases
Research from Chapman University discover ciliary extracellular-like vesicles (cELVs). Released by fluid-shear, cELVs act as nano-compartments within a cilium.

Controlling artificial cilia with magnetic fields and light
Researchers have made artificial cilia, or hair-like structures, that can bend into new shapes in response to a magnetic field, then return to their original shape when exposed to the proper light source.

Unraveling mechanisms of ventricular enlargement linked to schizophrenia
Scientists at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital have implicated two microRNAs in the biological processes that underlie the ventricle enlargement observed in models of schizophrenia.

Scientists show how tiny, mutated neuron antennae impair brain connectivity
Axons are the long thread-like extensions of neurons that send electrical signals to other brain cells.

Downstream signaling: Cilia release ectosomes to deliver important messages in the kidney
Primary cilia are found on nearly all cell types and serve an important role in sensing external mechanical and chemical signals, likely through extracellular vesicles (EV) called ectosomes.

Zooming into cilia sheds light into blinding diseases
A new study reveals an unprecedented close-up view of cilia linked to blindness.

Structural protein essential for ciliary harmony in comb jellies
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba and the Japanese National Institute for Basic Biology identified a structural protein that is essential for the coordinated beating of millions of tiny cilia on the surface of comb jellies.

Defective cilia linked to heart valve birth defects
Bicuspid aortic valve (BAV), the most common heart valve birth defect, is associated with genetic variation in human primary cilia during heart valve development, report Medical University of South Carolina researchers in Circulation.

Defects in heart valve cilia during fetal development cause mitral valve prolapse
Genetic mutations in heart valve cells of the developing fetus lead to mitral valve prolapse, report a global collaborative of researchers, including Medical University of South Carolina investigators, in today's Science Translational Medicine.

Read More: Cilia News and Cilia Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.