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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 3 (1996), Issue 1, Pages 21-27

Pulmonary Surfactant Function in Alveoli and Conducting Airways

Goran Enhorning

Department of Gynecology/Obstetrics, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA

Copyright © 1996 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Surface tension plays a very important role in aeration of the neonate's lungs. Pulmonary surfactant, which is inadequate in the premature infant, modifies surface tension during the act of breathing and is necessary for maintenance of alveolar stability. These facts led to the development of the concept that it might be possible to treat the premature infant by supplementing the infant's inadequate surfactant supply. In addition to maintaining alveolar stability, pulmonary surfactant might also be of vital importance for maintenance of small airway patency. Various conditions, most importantly asthma, might be the reason for a surfactant dysfunction to develop. This in turn might cause airway resistance to increase.