What is the role of mucus composition in the pathogenesis of sinusitis (sinus infection)?

Updated: Mar 01, 2018
  • Author: Itzhak Brook, MD, MSc; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

If the composition of mucus is changed, so that the mucus produced is more viscous (eg, as in cystic fibrosis), transport toward the ostia considerably slows, and the gel layer becomes demonstrably thicker. This results in a collection of thick mucus that is retained in the sinus for varying periods. In the presence of a lack of secretions or a loss of humidity at the surface that cannot be compensated for by mucous glands or goblet cells, the mucus becomes increasingly viscous, and the sol phase may become extremely thin, thus allowing the gel phase to have intense contact with the cilia and impede their action. Overproduction of mucus can overwhelm the mucociliary clearance system, resulting in retained secretions within the sinuses.


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