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J Biol Chem. 2000 Dec 8;275(49):38848-55.

Pulmonary surfactant proteins A and D are potent endogenous inhibitors of lipid peroxidation and oxidative cellular injury.

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Departments of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, and Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267-0564, USA.

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  • J Biol Chem 2000 Dec 13;277(50):49090.


The lung is composed of a series of branching conducting airways that terminate in grape-like clusters of delicate gas-exchanging airspaces called pulmonary alveoli. Maintenance of alveolar patency at end expiration requires pulmonary surfactant, a mixture of phospholipids and proteins that coats the epithelial surface and reduces surface tension. The surfactant lining is exposed to the highest ambient oxygen tension of any internal interface and encounters a variety of oxidizing toxicants including ozone and trace metals contained within the 10 kl of air that is respired daily. The pathophysiological consequences of surfactant oxidation in humans and experimental animals include airspace collapse, reduced lung compliance, and impaired gas exchange. We now report that the hydrophilic surfactant proteins A (SP-A) and D (SP-D) directly protect surfactant phospholipids and macrophages from oxidative damage. Both proteins block accumulation of thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances and conjugated dienes during copper-induced oxidation of surfactant lipids or low density lipoprotein particles by a mechanism that does not involve metal chelation or oxidative modification of the proteins. Low density lipoprotein oxidation is instantaneously arrested upon SP-A or SP-D addition, suggesting direct interference with free radical formation or propagation. The antioxidant activity of SP-A maps to the carboxyl-terminal domain of the protein, which, like SP-D, contains a C-type lectin carbohydrate recognition domain. These results indicate that SP-A and SP-D, which are ubiquitous among air breathing organisms, could contribute to the protection of the lung from oxidative stresses due to atmospheric or supplemental oxygen, air pollutants, and lung inflammation.

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