An alternative view of the role(s) of surfactant and the alveolar model.
- B A Hills
- Journal of applied physiology
1. Lamellated osmiophilic bodies are intracellular organelles in which pulmonary surfactant is stored prior to secretion. They contain about 85% phospholipid (per dry weight) and dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine is a major constituent, and although their ultrastructure is uncertain it is generally supposed that they resemble liposomes. However, liposomes are stable because layers of water are interposed between the lipid bilayers whereas an essential aspect of the function of lamellated bodies is that, subsequent to their secretion, they are rapidly disrupted to form a surface-active film which covers the respiratory epithelium of the lung. 2. A new method for isolating lamellated bodies from pig lung is described which has the advantage of speed and simplicity and which results in increased yields. The homogeneity of the preparation is similar to that obtained by other methods. 3. 31P NMR spectra of lamellated bodies showed that at 40 degrees C about 95% of the phospholipid was present as extended bilayers and that about 5% was present in a phase exhibiting isotropic head group mobility (tau R less than 10(-5) s). It is suggested that this phase may be due to apolar proteins which are present both in lamellated bodies and in liposomes prepared from lipids extracted from them. 4. The internal water content of lamellated bodies has been measured gravimetrically and the hydration of the phospholipid head groups has been examined by 31P NMR. The two methods gave results in good agreement and show that there are about seven molecules of water/molecule of phospholipid. It is concluded that although the phospholipid head groups in lamellated bodies are fully hydrated, there is no zone of free water. 5. Lamellated bodies are osmotically insensitive to NaCl whereas liposomes prepared from lipids extracted from them behave like perfect osmometers. It is suggested that the osmotic insensitivity and restricted water content of lamellated bodies are important to their function and dependent upon polar proteins in the outer limiting membrane.