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Respirology. 2006 Jan;11 Suppl:S12-5.

Biology of alveolar type II cells.

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Department of Medicine, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, University of Colorado, Denver, CO 80206, USA.


The purpose of this review is to highlight the many metabolic properties of alveolar type II cells, their production of surfactant, their role in innate immunity, and their importance in the repair process after lung injury. The review is based on the medical literature and results from our laboratory. Type II cells produce and secrete pulmonary surfactant and for that purpose they need to synthesize the lipids of surfactant. One of the regulators of lipogenesis is the transcription factor sterol regulatory element binding protein-1c (SREBP-1c). This is a key transcription factor regulating fatty acid synthesis. Type II cells also proliferate to restore the epithelium after lung injury, clear alveolar fluid by transporting sodium from the apical to the basolateral surface, and participate in the innate immune response to inhaled materials and organisms. The type II cell is, in many ways, the defender of the alveolus. However, the type II cells work in concert with the other cells in the gas exchange regions of the lung to keep the alveoli open and reduce inflammation due to irritants in the air we breathe.

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