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Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 1991 Oct;5(4):363-70.

Mechanisms of phosphatidylcholine acyl remodeling by human fetal lung.

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  • 1Department of Child Health, Faculty of Medicine, Southampton General Hospital, United Kingdom.


The molecular specificity of phosphatidylcholine (PC) synthesis by the de novo pathway in postmortem samples of human fetal lung (15 to 20 wk of gestation) was determined from the incorporation pattern in isolated microsomal preparations of CDP:[14C]choline into individual molecular species of PC. These analyses are based on the assumption that the molecular species composition of the pool of endogenous diacylglycerol used for PC synthesis by isolated microsomes reflects that of the authentic pool of diacylglycerol converted to PC by intact cells. Comparison of this microsomal incorporation pattern of radiolabel into PC with tissue PC composition suggested that even at this early stage of gestation 50% of lung dipalmitoyl PC was derived from synthesis de novo, with the remainder coming from acyl remodeling mechanisms. Analysis of PC synthesis de novo by organ cultures of human fetal lung showed that these acyl remodeling mechanisms were lost in culture. Despite evidence for differentiation of type II alveolar epithelial cells in culture, equilibrium labeling of PC with [14C]choline over 18 h resulted in a progressive decline in fractional incorporation into dipalmitoyl PC with time in culture. By 4 days in culture, this value was no different from the fractional incorporation of CDP:[14C]choline into microsomal PC in vitro over 3 h. The pattern of PC synthesized was not altered when total PC synthesis was stimulated by exposure of cultures to dexamethasone and tri-iodothyronine but was readily manipulated by exposure to exogenous fatty acids. These results demonstrate for the first time the activity of PC acyl remodeling mechanisms in human fetal lung, well before the initiation of surfactant production.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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