Disarming bacteria with mucus and phages

Millions of people are treated with antibiotics each year for infections or as a preventative measure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that at least 2.8 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant ...

Study reveals how mucus tames microbes

More than 200 square meters of our bodies—including the digestive tract, lungs, and urinary tract—are lined with mucus. In recent years, scientists have found some evidence that mucus is not just a physical barrier that ...

Probiotic hydrogels heal gut wounds other bandages can't reach

External wounds such as skin cuts or abrasions can often be easily covered with a simple Band-Aid or a larger wound patch to protect them and facilitate their healing. When it comes to some internal surfaces like those of ...

Fish slime: An untapped source of potential new antibiotics

As current antibiotics dwindle in effectiveness against multidrug-resistant pathogens, researchers are seeking potential replacements in some unlikely places. Now a team has identified bacteria with promising antibiotic activity ...

Determining what binds to mucus

The human body is full of mucus. This viscous goo isn't just a nuisance that gets coughed up or sneezed out—it can bind to drugs, toxins or microbes, potentially impacting human health. However, relatively little is known ...

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Mucus

In vertebrates, mucus (adjectival form: "mucous") is a slippery secretion produced by, and covering, mucous membranes. Mucous fluid is typically produced from mucous cells found in mucous glands. Mucous cells secrete products that are rich in glycoproteins and water. Mucous fluid may also originate from mixed glands, which contain both serous and mucous cells. It is a viscous colloid containing antiseptic enzymes (such as lysozyme), immunoglobulins, inorganic salts, proteins such as lactoferrin, and glycoproteins known as mucins that are produced by goblet cells in the mucous membranes and submucosal glands. This mucus serves to protect epithelial cells in the respiratory, gastrointestinal, urogenital, visual, and auditory systems in mammals; the epidermis in amphibians; and the gills in fish. A major function of this mucus is to protect against infectious agents such as fungi, bacteria and viruses. The average human body produces about a litre of mucus per day.

Bony fish, hagfish, snails, slugs, and some other invertebrates also produce external mucus. In addition to serving a protective function against infectious agents, such mucus provides protection against toxins produced by predators, can facilitate movement and may play a role in communication.

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