Surfactant in newborn compared with adolescent pigs: Adaptation to neonatal respiration

Gunnar A. Rau, Gertrud Vieten, Jack J. Haitsma, Joachim Freihorst, Christian Poets, Benno M. Ure, Wolfgang Bernhard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Surfactant composition and function differ between vertebrates, depending on pulmonary anatomy and respiratory physiology. Because pulmonary development in pigs is similar to that in humans, we investigated surface tension function, composition of phospholipid molecular species, and concentrations of surfactant protein (SP)-A to -D in term newborn pigs (NP) compared with adolescent pigs (AP), using the pulsating bubble surfactometer, mass spectrometry, high-performance liquid chromatography, and immunoblot techniques (IT). NP was more potent than AP surfactant in reaching minimal surface tension values near zero mN/m. Whereas SP-A and SP-D were comparable, SP-B and SP-C were increased 3- to 4-fold in NP surfactant. Moreover, fluidizing phospholipids such as palmitoylmyristoyl-PC (PC16:0/14:0) and palmitoylpalmitoleoyl-PC (PC16: 0/16:1) were increased at the expense of PC16:0/16:0 (32.4 ± 0.6 versus 44.5 ± 3.2%, respectively). Whereas concentrations of total anionic phospholipids were similar in NP and AP surfactant (9.9 ± 0.3 and 12.0 ± 0.3%, respectively), phosphatidylinositol was the predominant anionic phospholipid in NP surfactant. We conclude that, compared with AP, NP surfactant displays better surface tension function under dynamic conditions, which is associated with increased concentrations of SP-B and SP-C, as well as fluidizing phospholipids at the expense of PC16:0/16:0.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)694-701
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2004

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