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Chem Phys Lipids. 2001 Jul;112(1):11-9.

Concentration-dependent, temperature-dependent non-Newtonian viscosity of lung surfactant dispersions.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA.


The bulk shear viscosities of aqueous dispersions of lavaged calf lung surfactant (LS) and its chloroform:methanol extract (CLSE) were measured as a function of concentration, shear rate and temperature. At 10-mg phospholipid per milliliter, dispersions of LS and vortexed CLSE in 0.15 M NaCl (saline) had low viscosities near 1 cp over a range of shear rates from 225 to 1125 s(-1). Lung surfactant viscosity increased with phospholipid concentration and became strongly non-Newtonian with higher values at low shear rates. At 37 degrees C and 40 mg/ml, LS and vortexed CLSE in saline had viscosities of 38 and 34 cp (77 s(-1)) and 12 and 7 cp (770 s(-1)), respectively. Viscosity values for LS and CLSE were dependent on temperature and, at fixed shear, were lower at 23 degrees C than at 37 or 10 degrees C. Hysteresis was also present in viscosity measurements depending on whether shear rate was successively increased or decreased during study. Addition of 5 mM Ca(2+) at 37 degrees C markedly reduced CLSE viscosity at all shear rates and decreased LS viscosity at low shear rates. Dispersion by sonication rather than vortexing increased the viscosity of CLSE at fixed shear, while synthetic phospholipids dispersed by either method had low, relatively Newtonian viscosities. The complex viscous behavior of dispersions of LS and CLSE in saline results from their heterogeneous aggregated microstructure of phospholipids and apoproteins. Viscosity is influenced not only by the aggregate surface area under shear, but also by phospholipid-apoprotein interactions and aggregate structure/deformability. Similar complexities likely affect the viscosities of biologically-derived exogenous surfactant preparations administered to patients in clinical surfactant therapy.

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