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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2005 Mar;288(3):L552-61. Epub 2004 Dec 3.

Surfactant protein D influences surfactant ultrastructure and uptake by alveolar type II cells.

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Division of Pulmonary Biology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229-3039, USA.


Surfactant protein D (SP-D) is a member of the collectin family of the innate host defense proteins. In the lung, SP-D is expressed primarily by type II cells. Gene-targeted SP-D-deficient [SP-D(-/-)] mice have three- to fivefold higher surfactant lipid pool sizes. However, surfactant synthesis and secretion by type II cells and catabolism by alveolar macrophages are normal in SP-D(-/-) mice. Therefore, we hypothesized that SP-D might regulate surfactant homeostasis by influencing surfactant structure, thereby altering its uptake by type II cells. Large (LA) and small aggregate (SA) surfactant were isolated from bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) from SP-D(-/-), wild-type [SP-D(+/+)], and transgenic mice in which SP-D was expressed under conditional control of doxycycline in alveolar type II cells. Uptake of both LA and SA isolated from SP-D(-/-) mice by normal type II cells was decreased. Abnormally dense lipid forms were observed by electron microscopy of LA from SP-D(-/-) mice. SA from SP-D(-/-) mice consisted of atypical multilamellated small vesicles. Abnormalities in surfactant uptake by type II cells and in surfactant ultrastructure were corrected by conditional expression of SP-D in vivo. Preincubation of BALF from SP-D(-/-) mice with SP-D changed surfactant ultrastructure to be similar to that of SP-D(+/+) mice in vitro. The rapid changes in surfactant structure, increased uptake by type II cells, and decreased pool sizes normally occurring in the postnatal period were not seen in SP-D(-/-) mice. SP-D regulates uptake and catabolism by type II cells and influences the ultrastructure of surfactant in the alveolus.

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