Older people are four times more likely to develop pneumonia than younger people. As we age, many components of pulmonary innate immunity are impaired, including slowing of mucociliary clearance. Ciliary beat frequency (CBF) is a major determinant of mucociliary clearance, and it slows as we age. We hypothesized that CBF is slowed in aging because of increased oxidative stress, which activates PKCε signaling. We pharmacologi-cally inhibited PKCε in ex vivo mouse models of aging. We measured a slowing of CBF with aging that was reversed with inhibition using the novel PKC inhibitor, Ro-31-8220, as well as the PKCε inhibitor, PKCe141. Inhibition of PKCε using siRNA in mouse trachea also returned CBF to normal. In addition, antioxidants decrease PKCε activity and speed cilia. We also aged wild-type and PKCε KO mice and measured CBF. The PKCε KO mice were spared from the CBF slowing of aging. Using human airway epithelial cells from younger and older donors at air-liquid interface (ALI), we inhibited PKCε with siRNA. We measured a slowing of CBF with aging that was reversed with siRNA inhibition of PKCε. In addition, we measured bead clearance speeds in human ALI, which demonstrated a decrease in bead velocity with aging and a return to baseline after inhibition of PKCε. In summary, in human and mouse models, aging is associated with increased oxidant stress, which activates PKCε and slows CBF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L882-L890
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Aging
  • Airway epithelial cells
  • Ciliary beat frequency
  • Elderly
  • Mucociliary clearance
  • PKCε pneumonia
  • SiRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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