Mucociliary clearance is an important innate host defense of the mammalian respiratory system, as it traps foreign substances, including pollutants, pathogens, and allergens, and transports them out of the airway. The underlying mechanism of the actuation and coordination of cilia, the interplay between the cilia and mucus, and the formation of the metachronal wave have been explored extensively both experimentally and mathematically. In this mini-review, we provide a survey of the mathematical models of mucociliary clearance, from the motion of one single cilium to the emergence of the metachronal wave in a group of them, from the fundamental theoretical study to the state-of-the-art three-dimensional simulations. The mechanism of cilium actuation is discussed, together with the mathematical simplification and the implications or caveats of the results.
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