Surfactant protein (SP)-A and SP-D are collagen-like glycoproteins that are synthesized in the distal pulmonary epithelium. This study examined the effects of ageing and long-term smoking on SP-A and SP-D in the lungs. The possible links to the development of pulmonary emphysema were also investigated. Sequential lavage was performed in young and middle-aged or elderly nonsmokers and asymptomatic current smokers with various smoking histories. Middle-aged or elderly smokers were further categorised according to the presence of emphysema by high-resolution computed tomography. Levels of SP-A and SP-D in bronchial lavage (BL) fluid and in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid were quantified by ELISA. Significant decreases in SP-A were seen with age in nonsmokers in BL fluid, but not in BAL fluid. Middle-aged or elderly smokers with emphysema had lower levels of SP-A in both BL and BAL fluids when compared with young subjects, and in BL fluid when compared with middle-aged or elderly smokers without emphysema. SP-D did not change with age alone, however, it was decreased in middle-aged or elderly smokers when compared with similarly aged nonsmokers. In conclusion, surfactant protein-A may decrease with age alone or due to the cumulative effects of long-term smoking and development of emphysema, while surfactant protein-D decreases due to long-term smoking.
ASJC Scopus subject areas