Changes in subphase aggregates in rabbits injured by free fatty acid

Stephen B. Hall, Richard W. Hyde, Robert H. Notter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Rabbits treated with intravenous free fatty acid suffer an acute lung injury. Material obtained from these lungs by bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) has dramatically impaired ability to lower surface tension in vitro despite normal levels of surfactant phospholipids. Although large quantities of surface-active inhibitors are present in BAL, their effects are not sufficient to explain the magnitude of surfactant inactivation. This study determines if alterations in the surfactant aggregates can explain the loss of surfactant function in fatty acid lung injury. In injured animals, the larger, most active surfactant particles recovered by centrifugal pelleting were found to be decreased in amount. The remaining large particles had reduced surface activity compared with control aggregates. In addition, large particles in injured animals had a higher density than control animals on sucrose gradients following equilibrium centrifugation. Interaction with serum components present in the injured BAL could explain these higher densities. The ability of the injured BAL to lower surface tension was improved by supplementation with normal levels of particles from injured lungs. Supplementation of injured BAL with control large aggregates improved activity further and restored the ability to lower surface tension to < 1 mN/m. Therefore both the decreased amount and activity of large surfactant aggregates in injured animals contributed significantly to the observed inactivation of surfactant. Diminished surfactant function from alteration in surfactant aggregates is a mechanism common to other forms of acute lung injury, and the design of therapies with exogenous surfactants in injured lungs will need to consider strategies that restore surfactant function towards normal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1099-1106
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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