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Tredano, Mohammed; de Blic, Jacques; Griese, Matthias; Fournet, Jean-Christophe; Elion, Jacques; Bahuau, Michael (2001): Clinical biological and genetic heterogeneity of the inborn errors of pulmonary surfactant metabolism. In: Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, Vol. 39, Nr. 2: S. 90-108
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Abstract

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 surf acta nt 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 surfactant, 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 beta subunit of its receptor (II3rb1) 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 disentanglement of this disease cluster is however essential to propose specific therapeutic procedures: repeated broncho-alveolar ravages, GM-CSF replacement, bone marrow grafting or lung transplantation.