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Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM)

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Clinical Biological and Genetic Heterogeneity of the Inborn Errors of Pulmonary Surfactant Metabolism

Mohammed Tredano / Jacques de Blic / Matthias Griese / Jean-Christophe Fournet / Jacques Elion / Michel Bahuau
Published Online: 2005-06-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/CCLM.2001.018


Pulmonary surfactant is a multimolecular complex located at the air-water interface within the alveolus to which a range of physical (surface-active properties) and immune functions has been assigned. This complex consists of a surface-active lipid layer (consisting mainly of phospholipids), and of an aqueous subphase. From discrete surfactant sub-fractions one can isolate strongly hydrophobic surfactant proteins B (SP-B) and C (SP-C) as well as collectins SP-A and SP-D, which were shown to have specific structural, metabolic, or immune properties. Inborn or acquired abnormalities of the s u rfactant, qualitative or quantitative in nature, account for a number of human diseases. Beside hyaline membrane disease of the preterm neonate, a cluster of hereditary or acquired lung diseases has been characterized by periodic acid-Schiff-positive material filling the alveoli. From this heterogeneous nosologic group, at least two discrete entities presently emerge. The first is the SP-B deficiency, in which an essentially proteinaceous material is stored within the alveoli, and which represents an autosomal recessive Mendelian entity linked to the SFTPB gene (MIM 1786640). The disease usually generally entails neonatal respiratory distress with rapid fatal outcome, although partial or transient deficiencies have also been observed. The second is alveolar proteinosis, characterized by the storage of a mixed protein and lipid material, which constitutes a relatively heterogeneous clinical and biological syndrome, especially with regard to age at onset (from the neonate through to adulthood) as well as the severity of associated signs. Murine models, with a targeted mutation of the gene encoding granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) (Csfgm) or the β subunit of its receptor (Il3rb1) support the hypothesis of an abnormality of surfactant turnover in which the alveolar macrophage is a key player. Apart from SP-B deficiency, in which a near-consensus diagnostic chart can be designed, the ascertainment of other abnormalities of surfactant metabolism is not straightforward. The disentdisentanglement of this disease cluster is however essential to propose specific therapeutic procedures: repeated broncho-alveolar lavages, GM-CSF replacement, bone marrow grafting or lung transplantation.

Published Online: 2005-06-01

Published in Print: 2001-04-09

Citation Information: Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. Volume 39, Issue 2, Pages 90–108, ISSN (Print) 1434-6621, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/CCLM.2001.018, June 2005

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