For citation purposes: Yamashita CM, Veldhuizen RAW, Gill SE. Alveolar macrophages and pulmonary surfactant?more than just friendly neighbours. OA Biology 2013 Dec 01;1(1):6.

Critical review


Alveolar macrophages and pulmonary surfactant—more than just friendly neighbours

CM Yamashita,, RAW Veldhuizen,, SE Gill,

Authors affiliations

(1) Department of Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, London, ON, Canada

(2) Lawson Health Research Institute, London, ON, Canada

* Corresponding author Email:;



Located at the alveolar surface of the lung, both alveolar macrophages and pulmonary surfactant play an important role in innate host immunity whereby they protect the lung from various inhaled particles, chemicals and infectious agents. While alveolar macrophages are complex cells that exhibit both pro- and anti-inflammatory functions that are origin and circumstance-dependent, surfactant is a relatively consistent and stable material composed of phospholipids and proteins. Nevertheless, as will be outlined in this brief review, these two components exhibit marked interaction and interdependence in both undisturbed and activated conditions. Furthermore, disruption of this relationship between alveolar macrophages and surfactant may be a contributing factor to various lung conditions such as the acute respiratory distress syndrome.


Abundant literature exists to support a dynamic interaction between alveolar macrophages and pulmonary surfactant in both undisturbed and diseased states. This relationship may have important implications for the management and treatment of various pulmonary diseases.

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