Secretion of lactoferrin and lysozyme by cultures of human airway epithelium

R. F. Dubin, S. K. Robinson, J. H. Widdicombe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lactoferrin and lysozyme are important antimicrobial compounds of airway surface liquid, derived predominantly from serous cells of submucosal glands but also from surface epithelium. Here we compared release of these compounds from the following human cell cultures: primary cultures of tracheal epithelium (HTE), Calu-3 cells (a lung adenocarcinoma cell line frequently used as a model of serous gland cells), 16HBE14o- cells (an SV40 transformed line from airway surface epithelium), T84 cells (a colon carcinoma cell line), and human foreskin fibroblasts (HFF). For lysozyme, baseline secretory rates were in the order Calu-3 > 16HBE14o- > HTE ≈ T84 > HFF = 0; for lactoferrin, the only cell type showing measurable release was HTE; for mucus, HTE > Calu-3 > 16HBE14o- ≈ T84 > HFF = 0. A wide variety of neurohumoral agents and inflammatory stimuli was without effect on lactoferrin and lysozyme release from HTE or Calu-3 cells, although forskolin did stimulate secretion of water and lysozyme from Calu-3 cells. However, the concentration of lysozyme in the forskolin-induced secretions was much less than in airway gland secretions. Thus our data cast doubt on the utility of Calu-3 cells as a model of airway serous gland cells but do suggest that HTE could prove highly suitable for studies of mucin synthesis and release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L750-L755
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number4 30-4
StatePublished - Apr 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Airway surface liquid
  • Mucin
  • Serous gland cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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