Surfactant phospholipid metabolism

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2013 Mar;1831(3):612-25. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2012.09.010. Epub 2012 Sep 29.


Pulmonary surfactant is essential for life and is composed of a complex lipoprotein-like mixture that lines the inner surface of the lung to prevent alveolar collapse at the end of expiration. The molecular composition of surfactant depends on highly integrated and regulated processes involving its biosynthesis, remodeling, degradation, and intracellular trafficking. Despite its multicomponent composition, the study of surfactant phospholipid metabolism has focused on two predominant components, disaturated phosphatidylcholine that confers surface-tension lowering activities, and phosphatidylglycerol, recently implicated in innate immune defense. Future studies providing a better understanding of the molecular control and physiological relevance of minor surfactant lipid components are needed. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Phospholipids and Phospholipid Metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lung / cytology
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylcholines / metabolism*
  • Phosphatidylglycerols / metabolism*
  • Pulmonary Surfactants / chemistry
  • Pulmonary Surfactants / metabolism*
  • Sphingolipids / metabolism*
  • Surface Tension


  • Fatty Acids
  • Phosphatidylcholines
  • Phosphatidylglycerols
  • Pulmonary Surfactants
  • Sphingolipids
  • lecithins, disaturated