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Cells lining the trachea, viewed with ZEISS ORION NanoFab microscope

Eva Mutunga and Kate Klein, University of the District of Columbia and National Institute of Standards and Technology

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Cells lining the trachea 

In this image, the community of cells lining a mouse airway is magnified more than 10,000 times. This collection of cells, known as the mucociliary escalator, is also found in humans. It is our first line of defense against inhaled bacteria, allergens, pollutants and debris. Malfunctions in the system can cause or aggravate lung infections and conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The cells shown in gray secrete mucus, which traps inhaled particles. The colored cells sweep the mucus layer out of the lungs.

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This page last reviewed on August 30, 2017