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Chem Phys Lipids. 2001 Mar;110(1):1-10.

Analysis of pulmonary surfactant by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy following exposure to Stachybotrys chartarum (atra) spores.

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Departments of Oral Biology, Faculties of Dentistry and Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3E 0W2.


Lung cells are among the first tissues of the body to be exposed to air-borne environmental contaminants. Consequently the function of these cells may be altered before other cells are affected. As gas exchange takes place in the lungs, changes in cellular function may have serious implications for the processes of oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide elimination. In order for these processes to occur, the lung must maintain a high degree of expandability. This latter function is accomplished in part by the pulmonary surfactant which is synthesized and released by alveolar type II cells. Earlier studies have shown that exposure to gas phase materials such as smoke or organic solvents can alter the composition and function of the surfactant. The present study examines the ability of highly toxigenic mold spores to alter surfactant composition. Stachybotrys chartarum spores suspended in saline were instilled into mouse trachea as described earlier. After 24 h, the lungs were lavaged and the different processing stages of surfactant isolated by repeated centrifugation. Intracellular surfactant was isolated from the homogenized lung tissue by centrifugation on a discontinuous sucrose gradient. Samples were extracted into chloroform-methanol, dried and analyzed by Fourier-Transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Exposure to S. chartarum induced an overall reduction of phospholipid among the three surfactant subfractions. The intermediate and spent surfactant fractions in particular were reduced to about half of the values observed in the saline-treated group. The relative distribution of phospholipid was also altered by spore exposure. Within the intracellular surfactant pool, higher levels of phospholipid were detected after spore exposure. In addition, changes were observed in the nature of the phospholipids. In particular strong intramolecular hydrogen bonding, together with other changes, suggested that spore exposure was associated with absence of an acyl chain esterified on the glycerol backbone, resulting in elevated levels of lysophospholipid in the samples. This study shows that mold spores and their products induce changes in regulation of both secretion and synthesis of surfactant, as well as alterations in the pattern of phospholipid targeting to the pulmonary surfactant pools.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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