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Gross (1953) proposed the existence of a viscosity gradient within the alveolar fluid layer owing to evaporation of water from the fluid film, respiratory movements helping particles to drift along the broncho-alveolar junction. Kilburn (1968) favoured the hypothesis that particles and macrophages were removed from the alveoli by the influence of surface forces. For Hilding (1965) it was the cohesion forces of the bronchiolar 'mucus' together with the propulsive power of cilia. M o r e recently Sorokin and Brain (1975) proposed that there is a flow of fluid from the alveoli to the bronchioles, which is fed by transudation from the pulmonary blood flow capillaries as well as by cell secretions and is helped by respiratory movements of the lungs.

1977). This macromolecule is m a d e up of a polypeptide core with sugar chains attached along its length through O-glycosidic linkages between threonine or serine and N-acetyl galactosamine. Serine and threonine account for more than 40 per cent of the total amino acid content, cysteine molecules are also present but in very small a m o u n t s . Carbohydrates contribute up to 5 0 - 8 0 per cent of the total weight, the oligosaccharide side chains are branched and have an average length of 8 to 10 sugars although as few as 2 and as many as 20 have been identified.

They are characterized by the presence of a columnar epithelium, in which a unique type of secretory cell replaces the mucous cell and by an increase in the thickness of the muscularis and separation of smooth muscle fascicles by connective tissue. T w o major cell types are present in the bronchioles: the ciliated and the Clara cell. T h e ciliated cells are similar to those in the bronchi except that they are shorter. These cells are more numerous at first, but in small bronchioles Clara cells dominate the epithelium.

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