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Indian J Exp Biol. 2013 Jan;51(1):5-22.

Pulmonary surfactants and their role in pathophysiology of lung disorders.

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Department of Physiology, Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221 005, India.


Surfactant is an agent that decreases the surface tension between two media. The surface tension between gaseous-aqueous interphase in the lungs is decreased by the presence of a thin layer of fluid known as pulmonary surfactant. The pulmonary surfactant is produced by the alveolar type-II (AT-II) cells of the lungs. It is essential for efficient exchange of gases and for maintaining the structural integrity of alveoli. Surfactant is a secretory product, composed of lipids and proteins. Phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylglycerol are the major lipid constituents and SP-A, SP-B, SP-C, SP-D are four types of surfactant associated proteins. The lipid and protein components are synthesized separately and are packaged into the lamellar bodies in the AT-II cells. Lamellar bodies are the main organelle for the synthesis and metabolism of surfactants. The synthesis, secretion and recycling of the surfactant lipids and proteins is regulated by complex genetic and metabolic mechanisms. The lipid-protein interaction is very important for the structural organization of surfactant monolayer and its functioning. Alterations in surfactant homeostasis or biophysical properties can result in surfactant insufficiency which may be responsible for diseases like respiratory distress syndrome, lung proteinosis, interstitial lung diseases and chronic lung diseases. The biochemical, physiological, developmental and clinical aspects of pulmonary surfactant are presented in this article to understand the pathophysiological mechanisms of these diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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