To study the role of lung lymphatics in the removal of surfactant lipid from the sheep lung, we injected [1–14C]palmitate intravenously into six animals previously fitted with a cannula draining the caudal mediastinal lymph node. Lung lymph was collected for 100 h after injection of radiolabel. We obtained alveolar lavage material through a tracheostomy in four other animals after intravenous injection of [9,10–3H]palmitate. We measured radioactivity at several time points in lipid extracts from lymph, lavage fluid, and lung tissue. Alveolar lavage disaturated phosphatidylcholine (DSPC) specific activity peaked at about 40 h and was reduced to 30% of this value by 82 h. About 2% of the injected radiolabel was incorporated into lung tissue lipids. Only 4% of the level of labeling achieved in lung tissue lipids was found in lung lymph lipid during 100 h of lymph collection. Sixty-three percent of radiolabel in lymph lipid was recovered in phospholipids, and 29% of phospholipid radiolabel was found in DSPC. The distribution of phosphorus and palmitate radiolabel in lung lymph phospholipid did not closely resemble that of surfactant lipid. No rise in lung lymph DSPC specific activity was observed following the peak in lavage specific activity. If surfactant lipid is removed from the alveolar compartment without extensive recycling, then we conclude that the lung lymphatics do not play a major role in the clearance of surfactant lipid from the alveolar surface.
- Copyright © 1983 the American Physiological Society