The effects of gas humidification with high-flow nasal cannula on cultured human airway epithelial cells.

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This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Pulmonary Medicine.

2012, Article number 380686.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1155/2012/380686.

Copyright © 2012 Aaron Chidekel et al.


Humidification of inspired gas is important for patients receiving respiratory support. High-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) effectively provides temperature and humidity-controlled gas to the airway. We hypothesized that various levels of gas humidification would have differential effects on airway epithelial monolayers. Calu-3 monolayers were placed in environmental chambers at 37°C with relative humidity (RH) < 20% (dry), 69% (noninterventional comparator), and >90% (HFNC) for 4 and 8 hours with 10 L/min of room air. At 4 and 8 hours, cell viability and transepithelial resistance measurements were performed, apical surface fluid was collected and assayed for indices of cell inflammation and function, and cells were harvested for histology (n = 6/condition). Transepithelial resistance and cell viability decreased over time (P < 0.001) between HFNC and dry groups (P < 0.001). Total protein secretion increased at 8 hours in the dry group (P < 0.001). Secretion of interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8 in the dry group was greater than the other groups at 8 hours (P < 0.001). Histological analysis showed increasing injury over time for the dry group. These data demonstrate that exposure to low humidity results in reduced epithelial cell function and increased inflammation.

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