Immunohistochemistry of pulmonary surfactant-associated protein A in acute respiratory distress syndrome

Bao Li Zhu, Kaori Ishida, Li Quan, Masaki Q. Fujita, Hitoshi Maeda

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26 Citations (Scopus)


Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a fatal complication in severe traumas and diseases. Although the contribution of pulmonary surfactant abnormality to the pathogenesis of ARDS has been clinically fairly well investigated, the histopathological evidence has not been established. The aim of this study was to clarify the immunohistochemical distribution of surfactant-associated protein A (SP-A) for early diagnosis of ARDS with special regard to hyaline membrane (HM) formation. Two-hundred-and-ten autopsy cases of prolonged death from various traumas and diseases were investigated. ARDS were observed in 23 cases, showing speckled SP-A immunostaining. During the early, exudative phase of ARDS, characteristic SP-A distribution showed intense staining in the intra-alveolar massive aggregates and thick 'peeling'-like substances accompanied with a lot of granular staining. During the proliferative phase, localized accumulation of granular SP-A and macrophages containing dense granular SP-A became predominant. During the final fibrotic phase, SP-A staining in HMs became weak, and disseminated granular staining was observed in the alveolar spaces. These findings provide morphological evidence of the increase of SP-A during the early phase of ARDS, including some molecular alteration and its decrease during the late phase. Characteristic SP-A distribution in the exudative phase appeared to be especially useful for early histopathological diagnosis of respiratory distress, even prior to the appearance of typical HMs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-140
Number of pages7
JournalLegal Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Forensic pathology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Pathogenesis
  • Pulmonary surfactant-associated protein A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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