The clinical significance of phospholipids in lung pathology

Van Papendorp D.H. ; Engelbrecht F.M. (1981)

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The phospholipid composition of 35 human lungs with pathological lesions was analysed by means of thin-layer chromatography and densitometric scanning. The pathological conditions studied were: bronchopneumonia, myocardial infarction, chronic heart failure, chronic obstructive airway disease and tuberculosis. The phospholipid composition was compared with that of a control group consisting of sudden death cases (due to unnatural causes), i.e. relatively normal lungs. The phospholipid composition of the lungs in a specific pathological group showed the same pattern. However, significant differences were observed between corresponding phospholipid fractions from lungs in the various pathological groups. Compared with the lipid fractions from relatively normal lungs, these differences were even more marked. From the results it would appear that the abnormal composition of the phosholipid fractions might possibly be a cause of lung pathology. The increase and/or decrease in individual fractions and abnormal ratios between fractions might indicate abnormalities in the biosynthesis and catabolism of the lung phospholipids. Further research is necessary to elucidate the association of phospholipids with lung pathology. Phospholipid analysis of lung lavages and lung biopsies could be helpful in the diagnosis of lung diseases. Phospholipids in aerosol form could perhaps be used in treating certain lung disorders.

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