Open Access Research article

Effect of exogenous surfactants on viability and DNA synthesis in A549, immortalized mouse type II and isolated rat alveolar type II cells

Andreas Wemhöner12*, Paul Jennings3, Thomas Haller3, Mario Rüdiger12 and Georg Simbruner1

Author Affiliations

1 Innsbruck Medical University, Department for Pediatrics, Neonatology; Austria

2 Technical University Dresden, University Hospital Dresden, Department for Pediatric Intensive Care and Neonatology; Germany

3 Innsbruck Medical University, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics; Austria

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BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2011, 11:11  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-11-11

Published: 17 February 2011



In mechanically ventilated preterm infants with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), exogenous surfactant application has been demonstrated both to decrease DNA-synthesis but also and paradoxically to increase epithelial cell proliferation. However, the effect of exogenous surfactant has not been studied directly on alveolar type II cells (ATII cells), a key cell type responsible for alveolar function and repair.


The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of two commercially available surfactant preparations on ATII cell viability and DNA synthesis.


Curosurf® and Alveofact® were applied to two ATII cell lines (human A549 and mouse iMATII cells) and to primary rat ATII cells for periods of up to 24 h. Cell viability was measured using the redox indicator resazurin and DNA synthesis was measured using BrdU incorporation.


Curosurf® resulted in slightly decreased cell viability in all cell culture models. However, DNA synthesis was increased in A549 and rat ATII cells but decreased in iMATII cells. Alveofact® exhibited the opposite effects on A549 cells and had very mild effects on the other two cell models.


This study showed that commercially available exogenous surfactants used to treat preterm infants with RDS can have profound effects on cell viability and DNA synthesis.