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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2001 Apr 1;172(1):21-8.

Effects of Stachybotrys chartarum on surfactant convertase activity in juvenile mice.

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Department of Biology, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


We have shown recently that alveolar type II cells are sensitive to exposure to Stachybotrys chartarum spores, both in vitro and in an in vivo juvenile mouse model. In mice, this sensitivity is manifest in part as a significant increase in the newly secreted, biologically active, heavy aggregate form of alveolar surfactant (H) and the accumulation of the lighter, "metabolically used", biologically inactive alveolar surfactant forms (L(vivo)) in the interalveolar space. Conversion of the heavy, surface-active alveolar surfactant to the light metabolically used, nonsurface active forms is believed to involve the activity of an enzyme, namely convertase, which is thought to be derived from lamellar bodies (LB) in alveolar type II cells. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of S. chartarum spores on mouse H and LB convertase activity by measuring their rates of conversion to L(vivo) using the in vitro surface area cycling technique. It was determined whether there were concurrent changes in the protein and phospholipid concentrations of the raw bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (RL) and LB fractions that could be correlated with changes in convertase activity. Conversions of H to L(vivo) in untreated control mice and saline-, isosatratoxin F-, and Cladosporium cladosporioides-exposed mice were not significantly different (p > 0.05). However, conversion from H to L(vivo) in the mice exposed to S. chartarum spores was significantly higher than all other treatment groups (p < 0.001). LB to L(vivo) conversions in untreated and saline-exposed mice were not significantly different, although they were significantly higher than the H to L(vivo) conversions in these two animal treatment groups (p < 0.005), which supports the position that LB is a source of convertase activity in animals. LB to L(vivo) conversion from C. cladosporioides-, isosatrotoxin F-, and S. chartarum-exposed mice were all significantly depressed (p < 0.003) compared to the LB to L(vivo) conversion values obtained from untreated and saline-exposed mice. Protein concentrations in RL, H, L(vivo), and LB from mice exposed to S. chartarum spores were significantly elevated compared to those from the other treatment groups (p < 0.001). Protein concentration in H isolated from C. cladosporioides-exposed mice was also significantly elevated above untreated and saline control animal levels. Phospholipid concentrations in H isolated from S. chartarum-exposed mice were significantly elevated compared to those from other treatment groups, while LB phospholipid concentrations were significantly increased compared to saline and untreated control animal groups. These results show that S. chartarum spores significantly alter convertase activity in both the H and LB surfactant fractions in juvenile mice and that these changes can be related to changes in protein and phospholipid concentrations in alveolar lavage fractions. As surfactant promotes lung stability by reducing the surface tension of the air-alveolar interface, these results further support our position that inhalation exposure to S. chartarum spores in exposed individuals may lead to altered surfactant metabolism, and possibly to lung dysfunction through diminished alveolar surfactant surface tension attributes, and lung stability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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