What role do cilia play in the respiratory system?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Cilia play a major role throughout the body, especially in the respiratory system. They can be described as hair-like structures that are found on the outside of cells lining the bronchus within the respiratory system. The cilia of the respiratory system move together in a wave-like motion that is critical to their function. This wave-like motion occurs in tandem with other nearby cilia, and works together with mucus producing goblet cells to trap and remove toxins, microorganisms, and other debris that enter the respiratory system. This helps to protect the lungs by capturing the various invaders first in the mucus. The cilia then function together using their wave-like motion to move the mucus up and away from the lungs and back into the throat. This function of the cilia protects the vital respiratory system, helping to fight against infection and damage to the lungs.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial