Surfactant protein C: its unique properties and emerging immunomodulatory role in the lung

Microbes Infect. 2006 Jul;8(8):2317-23. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2006.04.009. Epub 2006 May 30.


Surfactant protein C (SP-C) is a highly hydrophobic protein found in pulmonary surfactant. SP-C is synthesized exclusively in alveolar type II cells as a 21 kDa integral membrane precursor protein and subsequently proteolytically processed to a 3.7 kDa secretory protein. SP-C enhances the adsorption and spreading of phospholipids at the air-liquid interface thereby promoting the surface tension-lowering properties of surfactant. The importance of SP-C in normal lung function is underscored by the recent findings of inflammatory lung diseases associated both with absence of alveolar SP-C and with cellular expression of mutant SP-C isoforms. This review examines our current understanding of the role of SP-C in maintaining alveolar epithelial homeostasis and the potential role of abnormal SP-C expression in the development of lung diseases with particular emphasis on microbial pulmonary infection and inflammation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / genetics
  • Immunologic Factors / physiology*
  • Lung / immunology*
  • Lung Diseases / immunology
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein C / genetics
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein C / immunology*


  • Immunologic Factors
  • Pulmonary Surfactant-Associated Protein C