Immunocytochemical localization of surfactant protein D (SP-D) in type II cells, Clara cells, and alveolar macrophages of rat lung

J Histochem Cytochem. 1992 Oct;40(10):1589-97. doi: 10.1177/40.10.1527377.


We investigated the cellular and subcellular distribution of surfactant protein D (SP-D) by immunogold labeling in lungs of adult rats that had been given bovine serum albumin coupled to 5-nm gold (BSAG) for 2 hr to visualize the endocytotic pathway. Specific gold labeling for SP-D was found in alveolar Type II cells, Clara cells, and alveolar macrophages. In Type II cells abundant labeling was observed in the endoplasmic reticulum, whereas the Golgi complex and multivesicular bodies were labeled to a limited extent only. Lamellar bodies did not seem to contain SP-D. Gold labeling in alveolar macrophages was restricted to structures containing endocytosed BSAG. In Clara cells labeling was found in the endoplasmic reticulum, the Golgi complex, and was most prominent in granules present in the apical domain of the cell. Double labeling experiments with anti-surfactant protein A (SP-A) showed that both SP-A and SP-D were present in the same granules. However, SP-A was distributed throughout the granule contents, whereas SP-D was confined to the periphery of the granule. The Clara cell granules are considered secretory granules and not lysosomes, because they were not labeled for the lysosomal markers cathepsin D and LGP120, and they did not contain endocytosed BSAG.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bronchi / cytology
  • Bronchi / metabolism*
  • Bronchi / ultrastructure
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Endocytosis
  • Exocytosis
  • Glycoproteins / metabolism*
  • Gold
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / metabolism*
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / cytology
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / metabolism*
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / ultrastructure
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein D
  • Pulmonary Surfactants / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / metabolism


  • Glycoproteins
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein D
  • Pulmonary Surfactants
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine
  • Gold