The influence of water on the phase transition of sheep lung surfactant A possible mechanism for surfactant phase transitions in vivo

Jillian K. Teubner, Robert A. Gibson, Edward J. McMurchie

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4 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of water on the thermal properties of sheep lung surfactant lipids was determined by differential scanning calorimetry. Dry surfactant exhibited a phase transition with an upper limit of about 54°C, whereas that of the fully hydrated surfactant was about 30°C. The effect of water was confined to a range of hydration values from 0 to 25%. The results indicate that pulmonary surfactant lipids are capable of undergoing both thermotropic and lyotropic mesomorphism in vitro. The degree of hydration of the surfactant could influence its in vivo biophysical role in alveolar dynamics. Indeed, small changes in the surfactant to water ratio induced by regional differences in the surfactant concentration at the alveolar surface during alveolar expansion and contraction could be sufficient to trigger isothermal phase transitions in the surfactant lipids. This would allow changes to occur in the equilibrium between solidus and fluidus surfactant during the respiratory cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-525
Number of pages5
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)/Lipids and Lipid Metabolism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Mar 1983


  • (Sheep lung)
  • Lipid biophysics
  • Lipid-water interaction
  • Mesomorphism
  • Phase transition
  • Pulmonary surfactant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology

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