Bernhard, Wolfgang, Postle, Anthony D., Rau, Gunnar A. and Freihorst, Joachim
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), . (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.
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