In chyloptysis, SP-A affects the clearance of serum lipoproteins entering the airways

Antonella Alberti, Franco Ravenna, Daniela Quaglino, Maurizio Luisetti, Maurizio Muraca, Lorenzo Previato, Goretta Baldo Enzi, Roberta Bruni, Aldo Baritussio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Serum lipoproteins may enter the airways and appear in sputum (chyloptysis) when the lymphatic circulation is impaired by inflammation, neoplasia, or an abnormal proliferation of smooth muscle cells. While analyzing the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of a patient with chyloptysis, we noticed that surfactant could not be separated from contaminating serum lipoproteins and speculated that lipoproteins might interact with surfactant components. To clarify this point we immobilized surfactant protein (SP) A on microtiter wells and incubated it with 125I-labeled very low density lipoproteins (VLDLs), low-density lipoproteins, and high-density lipoproteins. We found that SP-A binds lipoproteins. Studying in greater detail the interaction of SP-A with VLDLs, we found that the binding is time and concentration dependent; is inhibited by unlabeled lipoproteins, phospholipids, and antibodies to SP-A; is increased by Ca2+; and is unaffected by methyl α-D-mannopyranoside. Whole surfactant is a potent inhibitor of binding. Furthermore, we found that SP-A increases the degradation of VLDLs by alveolar macrophages and favors the association of VLDLs with alveolar surfactant. We conclude that SP-A influences the disposal of serum lipoproteins entering the airways and speculate that binding to alveolar surfactant might represent an important step in the interaction between exogenous substances and the lung.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number5 18-5
Publication statusPublished - May 1998


  • Alveolar macrophages
  • Lung surfactant
  • Lymphangioleiomyomatosis
  • Surfactant protein A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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