Pulmonary surfactant: the key to the evolution of air breathing

News Physiol Sci. 2003 Aug;18:151-7. doi: 10.1152/nips.01438.2003.


Pulmonary surfactant controls the surface tension at the air-liquid interface within the lung. This system had a single evolutionary origin that predates the evolution of the vertebrates and lungs. The lipid composition of surfactant has been subjected to evolutionary selection pressures, particularly temperature, throughout the evolution of the vertebrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Lung / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Surfactants / metabolism*
  • Respiration*
  • Vertebrates
  • Water


  • Pulmonary Surfactants
  • Water