Article

Structure-function relationships in pulmonary surfactant membranes: From biophysics to therapy.

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (Impact Factor: 4.66). 02/2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2014.01.028
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Pulmonary surfactant is an essential lipid-protein complex to maintain an operative respiratory surface at the mammalian lungs. It reduces surface tension at the alveolar air-liquid interface to stabilize the lungs against physical forces operating along the compression-expansion breathing cycles. At the same time, surfactant integrates elements establishing a primary barrier against the entry of pathogens. Lack or deficiencies of the surfactant system are associated with respiratory pathologies, which treatment often includes supplementation with exogenous materials. The present review summarizes current models on the molecular mechanisms of surfactant function, with particular emphasis in its biophysical properties to stabilize the lungs and the molecular alterations connecting impaired surfactant with diseased organs. It also provides a perspective on the current surfactant-based strategies to treat respiratory pathologies. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Membrane structure and function: Relevance in the cell's physiology, pathology and therapy.

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