Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Appl Physiol (1985). 2014 Sep 1;117(5):440-51. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00084.2014. Epub 2014 Jun 26.

Surface tension in situ in flooded alveolus unaltered by albumin.

Author information

Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology & Biomedical Engineering, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey.
Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology & Biomedical Engineering, Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey


In the acute respiratory distress syndrome, plasma proteins in alveolar edema liquid are thought to inactivate lung surfactant and raise surface tension, T. However, plasma protein-surfactant interaction has been assessed only in vitro, during unphysiologically large surface area compression (%ΔA). Here, we investigate whether plasma proteins raise T in situ in the isolated rat lung under physiologic conditions. We flood alveoli with liquid that omits/includes plasma proteins. We ventilate the lung between transpulmonary pressures of 5 and 15 cmH2O to apply a near-maximal physiologic %ΔA, comparable to that of severe mechanical ventilation, or between 1 and 30 cmH2O, to apply a supraphysiologic %ΔA. We pause ventilation for 20 min and determine T at the meniscus that is present at the flooded alveolar mouth. We determine alveolar air pressure at the trachea, alveolar liquid phase pressure by servo-nulling pressure measurement, and meniscus radius by confocal microscopy, and we calculate T according to the Laplace relation. Over 60 ventilation cycles, application of maximal physiologic %ΔA to alveoli flooded with 4.6% albumin solution does not alter T; supraphysiologic %ΔA raise T, transiently, by 51 ± 4%. In separate experiments, we find that addition of exogenous surfactant to the alveolar liquid can, with two cycles of maximal physiologic %ΔA, reduce T by 29 ± 11% despite the presence of albumin. We interpret that supraphysiologic %ΔA likely collapses the interfacial surfactant monolayer, allowing albumin to raise T. With maximal physiologic %ΔA, the monolayer likely remains intact such that albumin, blocked from the interface, cannot interfere with native or exogenous surfactant activity.


albumin; alveolar edema; plasma proteins; surface tension; surfactant

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center