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What is the job of ciliated cells?

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Quick Answer

In the lungs, ciliated cells move mucus along the respiratory tract and prevent pathogens from causing infections. The cilia in the female reproductive tract encourage oocytes to move through the Fallopian tubes.

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Full Answer

The ciliated columnar epithelium in the respiratory tract play an important role in protecting the body against infection, and they help mobilize mucus. They are present along the nose, bronchi and bronchioles, and rest above the mucus producing goblet cells. When pathogens move into the respiratory tract, they get caught in the mucus. The ciliary escalator moves it upwards so it can leave via the nose and the throat. When someone smokes, the ciliary escalator is paralyzed, making them more susceptible to disease. Additionally, these cells have differentiation potential that allows them to repair the respiratory tract when it undergoes damage because of bronchitis.

Women also benefit from the presence of ciliary cells in their reproductive tract. When an egg releases from the ovaries, the oviduct uses the cilia to generate a current that draws it into the Fallopian tubes. Without the cilia's force, oocytes would not collide with sperm to form a zygote.

Ciliated cells tend to feature 200-300 cilia, which expand the surface area as well as providing motility benefits. These cells are rectangular shaped.

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