Anomalies of the bronchial cilia were studied in 5 children with recurrent pulmonary infections. Case 1 had Kartagener's syndrome and an absence of the inner and outer dynein arms in most cilia, although a few shortened and even some normal arms could be seen. Cases 2 and 3 had unilateral bronchiectasis without family history of Kartagener's syndrome. Serial studies of the bronchial epithelium at times showed a bilateral lack of the inner dynein arms and a partial lack of outer arms. These abnormalities persisted in these 2 children after they had recovered from the acute pulmonary infection but disappeared after 6-8 months of antibiotic treatment. Cases 4 and 5 had recurrent pulmonary infections without bronchiectasis and many shortened outer dynein arms could be seen, but these anomalies disappeared after recovery. In all 5 children such architectural ciliary anomalies were present as megacilia, fused cilia, naked cilia, and completely disorganised axonemas. These architectural defects were particularly numerous in the children without bronchiectasis. Our observations suggest that anomalies of the bronchial ciliary microtubular system may not only be congenital but may also be acquired; this might well help to explain some cases of repeated respiratory tract infection and bronchiectasis.
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