Nitric oxide production by rat alveolar macrophages can be modulated in vitro by surfactant protein A

Hanna Blau, Shoshana Riklis, J. Freer Van Iwaarden, Francis X. McCormack, Moshe Kalina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alveolar macrophage and type II cells are known to generate nitric oxide, which is a highly reactive molecule that plays a role in host defense against pathogens, as well as tissue damage associated with inflammation in the lung. Both types of cells are known to generate the nitric oxide by inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). Surfactant-associated protein A (SP- A) from various sources (human alveolar proteinosis, rat and recombinant rat) was found to upregulate nitric oxide production by alveolar macrophages in a concentration- and time-dependent manner, whereas type II cells were unresponsive to SP-A. The increase in nitric oxide production was associated with elevation in the expression of iNOS. However, only 30-50% of the cells responded by expressing iNOS, as was observed by immunofluorescence staining. The stimulatory effect of SP-A was found to be 30-50% lower than the known nitric oxide agonists interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS). However, addition of the cytokines interleukin-1 or granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor elevated the levels of nitric oxide production to that of LPS and IFN-γ. Special attention was given to exclude the possibility that contaminating LPS in the various SP-A species stimulated nitric oxide production by the macrophages. Our results indicate that SP-A is the agonist and not a contaminating LPS. The data presented in this report extend our knowledge regarding the nonsurfactant-related functions of SP-A.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L1198-L1204
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number6 16-6
StatePublished - Jun 1997


  • Inducible nitric oxide synthase
  • Interferon-γ
  • Lipopolysaccharide
  • Type II cells


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