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Pediatr Res. 1999 Jul;46(1):85-93.

Multiple mechanisms of lung surfactant inhibition.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, SUNY at Buffalo, New York 14214, USA.


We studied the mechanisms by which C16:0 lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) and albumin inhibit the surface activity of calf lung surfactant extract (CLSE) by using a pulsating bubble apparatus with a specialized hypophase exchange system, plus adsorption and Wilhelmy balance measurements. In the absence of inhibitors, CLSE (1 mg phospholipid/mL) reached minimum surface tension (gamma(min)) < 1 mN/m within 5 min of bubble pulsation at 20 cycles/min at 37 degrees C. Mixtures of CLSE:LPC had impaired surface activity depending on LPC content: gamma(min) was raised to 5 mN/m by 14 wt % LPC, to 15 mN/m by 25-30 wt% LPC, and to >20 mN/m (67 wt % LPC), even at high CLSE concentrations (3 and 6 mg phospholipid/mL). In contrast, inhibition of CLSE by albumin was more easily abolished when surfactant concentration was raised. Mixtures of albumin (3 mg/mL) and CLSE (1 mg phospholipid/mL) had gamma(min) >20 mN/m, but normal values of gamma(min) < 1 mN/m were reached at higher CLSE concentration (3 mg phospholipid/mL) even when albumin concentration was increased 8-fold to 24 mg/mL. In hypophase exchange studies, LPC, but not albumin, was able to penetrate preformed CLSE surface films and raise gamma(min) CLSE surface films with gamma(min) < 1 mN/m were isolated by an initial hypophase exchange with saline, and a second exchange with an LPC-containing hypophase raised gamma(min) to approximately 10 mN/m. CLSE surface films retained the ability to reach gamma(min) < 1 mN/m in analogous hypophase exchange studies with albumin. The ability of LPC to penetrate surface films of CLSE, although albumin could not, was also demonstrated in adsorption experiments in a Teflon dish, where diffusion was minimized by subphase stirring. Wilhelmy balance experiments also demonstrated that LPC could mix and interact with CLSE or dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine in solvent-spread surface films. The ability of LPC or other cell membrane lipids to penetrate interfacial films and raise gamma(min) even at high surfactant concentration may increase their inhibitory actions during acute lung injury.

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