Variation of Ciliary Beat Pattern in Three Different Beating Planes in Healthy Subjects

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Digital high-speed video microscopy (DHSV) allows analysis of ciliary beat frequency (CBF) and ciliary beat pattern (CBP) of respiratory cilia in three planes. Normal reference data use a sideways edge to evaluate ciliary dyskinesia and calculate CBF using the time needed for a cilium to complete 10 beat cycles. Variability in CBF within the respiratory epithelium has been described, but data concerning variation of CBP is limited in healthy epithelium. This study aimed to document variability of CBP in normal samples, to compare ciliary function in three profiles, and to compare CBF calculated over five or 10 beat cycles.


Nasal brushing samples from 13 healthy subjects were recorded using DHSV in three profiles. CBP and CBF over a 10-beat cycle were evaluated in all profiles, and CBF was reevaluated over five-beat cycles in the sideways edges.


A uniform CBP was seen in 82.1% of edges. In the sideways profile, uniformity within the edge was lower (uniform normal CBP, 69.1% [sideways profile]; 97.1% [toward the observer], 92.0% [from above]), and dyskinesia was higher. Interobserver agreement for dyskinesia was poor. CBF was not different between profiles (P = .8097) or between 10 and five beat cycles (P = .1126).


Our study demonstrates a lack of uniformity and consistency in manual CBP analysis of samples from healthy subjects, emphasizing the risk of automated CBP analysis in limited regions of interest and of single and limited manual CBP analysis. The toward the observer and from above profiles may be used to calculate CBF but may be less sensitive for evaluation of ciliary dyskinesia and CBP. CBF can be measured reliably by evaluation of only five-beat cycles.

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