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Pulmonary Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 380686, 8 pages
Research Article

The Effects of Gas Humidification with High-Flow Nasal Cannula on Cultured Human Airway Epithelial Cells

1Nemours Biomedical Research, Nemours Research Lung Center, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, 1600 Rockland Road, Wilmington, DE 19803, USA
2Department of Pediatrics, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, 1025 Walnut Street, Suite 700, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA
3Department of Pediatrics, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, 1600 Rockland Road, Wilmington, DE 19803, USA
4Departments of Physiology and Pediatrics, Temple University School of Medicine, 3420 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA

Received 11 May 2012; Revised 7 August 2012; Accepted 7 August 2012

Academic Editor: S. L. Johnston

Copyright © 2012 Aaron Chidekel et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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 . 0 0 1 ) between HFNC and dry groups ( 𝑃 < 0 . 0 0 1 ). Total protein secretion increased at 8 hours in the dry group ( 𝑃 < 0 . 0 0 1 ). Secretion of interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8 in the dry group was greater than the other groups at 8 hours ( 𝑃 < 0 . 0 0 1 ). 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.