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Review
. 1993 Jan;74(1):1-15.
doi: 10.1152/jappl.1993.74.1.1.

Electrolyte and Fluid Transport Across the Mature Alveolar Epithelium

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Review

Electrolyte and Fluid Transport Across the Mature Alveolar Epithelium

G Saumon et al. J Appl Physiol (1985). .

Abstract

The lungs must be kept "dry" for efficient gas exchange. The mechanisms that contribute to clear alveoli from fetal lung fluid at birth are still present during adult life and allow recovery from alveolar flooding. It has recently been shown with the use of different approaches in vitro, as well as in vivo, that alveolar epithelium performs solute-coupled fluid transport. Fluid absorption from alveoli occurs chiefly as a result of active transepithelial Na+ transport. The mechanisms of Na+ transport have been partly elucidated; Na+ enters alveolar cells through apical Na+ channels and Na(+)-coupled solute transporters and is pumped out at the basolateral membrane by a Na(+)-K(+)-adenosinetriphosphatase (ATPase). Transepithelial Na+ transport and fluid absorption are stimulated by beta-adrenergic agonists, with adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate being the likely intracellular second messenger. K+ is probably secreted into alveoli because its concentration in the epithelial lining fluid is larger than expected for passive distribution. K+ channels have been described that, in conjunction with Na(+)-K(+)-ATP-ase, might provide pathways for active transport. Active proton secretion or bicarbonate absorption have been reported, which may explain the low pH of the alveolar epithelial lining fluid. It is probable that active solute transports are the main determinants of epithelial lining fluid depth and composition. A challenge for the future is to understand how this homeostasis is achieved.

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