The use of primary cell culture techniques to predict the function of native respiratory epithelia was tested in studies of dog airway epithelia. Epithelial cells from Cl- secretory (tracheal) and Na+ absorptive (bronchial) airway regions were isolated by enzymatic digestion, plated on collagen matrices, and maintained in serum-free, hormone-supplemented media. Transepithelial and intracellular studies showed that both the tracheal and bronchial culture preparations exhibited bioelectric parameters quantitatively similar to those of intact tissues. Similar to the native tissue, the tracheal preparation exhibited an equivalent short-circuit circuit (Ieq) that was sensitive to inhibitors of Cl- transport (bumetanide, diphenylamine carboxylic acid) but was insensitive to an inhibitor of Na+ transport, amiloride. In contrast, the bronchial preparation, like the native tissue, exhibited an Ieq sensitive to amiloride but insensitive to bumetanide. As compared with the trachea, the bronchial (absorptive) epithelium is characterized by 1) a large amiloride-sensitive cellular conductance and 2) a relatively depolarized basolateral membrane. We conclude that this primary cell culture technique provides epithelial preparations comparable to the native tissue and suitable for quantitative studies of regional differences in ion transport function.
American Journal of Physiology (consolidated), 1988, Vol 254, Issue 4 Pt 1