Pulmonary and gastric surfactants. A comparison of the effect of surface requirements on function and phospholipid composition

Bernhard, Wolfgang, Postle, Anthony D., Rau, Gunnar A. and Freihorst, Joachim (2001) Pulmonary and gastric surfactants. A comparison of the effect of surface requirements on function and phospholipid composition. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, 129, (1), 173-182. (doi:10.1016/S1095-6433(01)00314-2).


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Surfactant is present in the alveoli and conductive airways of mammalian lungs. The presence of surface active agents was, moreover, demonstrated for avian tubular lungs and for the stomach and intestine. As the surface characteristics of these organs differ from each other, their surfactants possess distinct biochemical and functional characteristics. In the stomach so-called ‘gastric surfactant’ forms a hydrophobic barrier to protect the mucosa against acid back-diffusion. For this purpose gastric mucosal cells secrete unsaturated phosphatidylcholines (PC), but no dipalmitoyl-PC (PC16:0/16:0). By contrast, surfactant from conductive airways, lung alveoli and tubular avian lungs contain PC16:0/16:0 as their main component in similar concentrations. Hence, there is no biochemical relation between gastric and pulmonary surfactant. Alveolar surfactant, being designed for preventing alveolar collapse under the highly dynamic conditions of an oscillating alveolus, easily reaches values of <5 mN/m upon cyclic compression. Surfactants from tubular air-exposed structures, however, like the conductive airways of mammalian lungs and the exclusively tubular avian lung, display inferior compressibility as they only reach minimal surface tension values of approximately 20 mN/m. Hence, the highly dynamic properties of alveolar surfactant do not apply for surfactants designed for air–liquid interfaces of tubular lung structures.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/S1095-6433(01)00314-2
Related URLs:
Keywords: air capillaries, airway surfactant, alveolar surfactant, bird surfactant, dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine, gastric surfactant, phospholipid, pulsating bubble surfactometer, surfactant function
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Q Science > QP Physiology
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Medicine > Infection, Inflammation and Repair
ePrint ID: 26940
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2006
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 11:50
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/26940

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