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Chem Phys Lipids. 2011 Sep;164(6):549-55. doi: 10.1016/j.chemphyslip.2011.04.004. Epub 2011 Apr 15.

Analysis of lung surfactant phosphatidylcholine metabolism in transgenic mice using stable isotopes.

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Division of Infection, Inflammation and Immunity, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.


Stable isotope labelling of lipid precursors coupled with mass spectrometry-based lipidomic analyses and determination of isotope enrichment in substrate, intermediate and product pools provide the parameters needed to determine absolute flux rates through lipid pathways in vivo. Here, as an illustration of the power of such analyses we investigated lung phosphatidylcholine (PC) synthesis in Surfactant Protein-D (SP-D) null mice. These animals develop emphysema, foamy alveolar macrophages and an alveolar lipoproteinosis with increasing age. We used the incorporation of methyl-9-[(2)H] choline chloride coupled with ESI-MS/MS to quantify absolute rates of lung surfactant PC synthesis and secretion in an SP-D(-/-) mouse model, together with an analysis of the molecular specificity of lung PC synthesis. PC synthetic rates were comparable in control (0.52 μmol/lung/h) and SP-D(-/-) (0.69 μmol/lung/h) mice, as were rates of surfactant PC secretion (29.8 and 30.6 nmol/lung/h, respectively). Increased lung PC in the SP-D(-/-) mouse was due to impaired catabolism, with a rate of accumulation of 0.057 μmol/lung/h. The relatively low rates of surfactant PC secretion compared with total lung PC synthesis were compatible with a suggested ABCA1-mediated basolateral lipid efflux from alveolar type II epithelial cells. Finally, PC molecular species analysis suggested that a proportion of newly synthesised PC is secreted rapidly into the lung air spaces in both control and SP-D(-/-) mice before significant PC acyl remodelling occurs.

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