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Question Video: Describing the Role of Ciliated Epithelial Cells in the Nonspecific Immune Response Biology

What is the function of ciliated epithelial cells in the first line of defense?

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Video Transcript

What is the function of ciliated epithelial cells in the first line of defense? (A) To secrete mucus to trap pathogens and protect the lungs. (B) To protect the female reproductive system from infection. (C) To move dust and pathogens away from the lungs. (D) To secrete lysozyme and destroy invading bacteria. (E) To secrete hydrochloric acid to destroy microbes.

This question is asking us about ciliated epithelial cells in the first line of defense, sometimes known as the innate immune system. The immune system is a network of cells and proteins that defend us against infection. It can be divided into innate, or nonspecific, immunity and adaptive, or specific, immunity.

Innate immunity is rapid and is the first line of defense our body uses while the adaptive immune response develops. It includes barriers like our skin that can prevent pathogens from entering our body and causing infection. Innate immunity is nonspecific, meaning it fights all pathogens the same way. While skin does a good job of protecting our body from the outside, mucous membranes act to protect our body cavities and internal surfaces.

Here’s what a typical mucous membrane looks like. The cell in the center is a goblet cell and is the one that secretes mucus. The cells on either side are ciliated epithelial cells. You can see the cilia on top of the cells. Cilia are hairlike structures that extend from the surface of these cells and can work to trap foreign particles and move them away.

Mucous membranes can be found all over the body, including the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, lungs, and many more. In the lungs, dust and foreign particles can be swept away by ciliated epithelial cells. This helps to protect the lungs from these materials.

Therefore, the option that best describes the function of ciliated epithelial cells in the first line of defense is given by answer choice (C): to move dust and pathogens away from the lungs.

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