Dexamethasone increases adult rat lung surfactant lipids.
Prenatal administration of glucocorticoids stimulates epithelial cell maturation and induces a precocious development of pulmonary surfactant. The response of the adult lung to steroid administration is less well understood. We administered dexamethasone (2 mg X kg-1 X day-1) to adult male rats for 1 wk by daily subcutaneous injection. After pentobarbital anesthesia we lavaged the lungs and also isolated lamellar bodies from the tissue. Lipid analyses of the extracellular and intracellular surfactant compartments showed two- to fourfold greater amounts of total phospholipids and disaturated phosphatidylcholine compared with control. These changes were not found in kidney nor liver and were not present in plasma membrane, mitochondrial, or microsomal fractions from lungs. Morphometric analyses of the type II cells showed that anatomic measures of the lamellar body pool did not increase. We conclude that glucocorticoids have a significant effect to increase lung surfactant lipid pools of adult rat lungs by changing the phospholipid content of lamellar bodies, without changing lamellar body volume.
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