The role of surfactant in the static lung mechanics of the lizard Ctenophorus nuchalis

Christopher B. Daniels, Boris D. Eskandari-Marandi, Terence E. Nicholas

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    11 Citations (Scopus)


    We previously showed that the lung of the central Australian lizard, Ctenophorus nuchalis, contains a large amount of surfactant, the composition of which varies with body temperature. We now show that the specific compliance of the lungs of these lizards remains constant regardless of whether they were maintained at 10, 18, 27, 37 or 43°C for 4 hours. In contrast, the opening pressure was constant up to 27°C, but decreased at 37 and 43°C. When we lavaged the lungs in situ to remove the majority of surfactant, specific compliance decreased while opening pressure increased. The lungs of C. nuchalis are essentially two bubbles, with the left one larger at low and intermediate volumes. After collapsing both lungs, the larger left lung always inflated first. However, following lavage the smaller right lung inflated first. As the larger lung, when collapsed, would have a much greater area of epithelial contact, this result is consistent with surfactant acting as an 'antiglue'. During deflation the smaller lung collapsed first, consistent with the law of Laplace. Compliance did not change in the saline-filled lung suggesting that the gas-liquid interface does not play a major role. We conclude that in the lungs of these lizards, surfactant is acting as an antiglue. This might be important during periods of apnea at low body temperatures, when residual volume is small and epithelial surfaces may come into contact.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)11-23
    Number of pages13
    JournalRespiration Physiology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 1993


    • Compliance, surfactant
    • Mechanics, compliance, surfactant
    • Reptiles, lizard (Ctenophorus nuchalis)
    • Surfactant, lung, antiglue


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