Surfactant

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Surfactant is a lipoprotein molecule which is produced by alveolar type 2 cells in the lungs. It is required in the lungs to reduce surface tension in alveolar type 1 cells. This maintenance of surface tension is key to allow the rapid diffusion of gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide across the alveoli membrane [1] Because the alveoli are so small, the water molecules are close enough for the attraction of hydrogen bonds to occur, applying a force making it harder for the alveoli to expand, reducing the internal pressure and therefore creating a gradient for air to move from the higher atmospheric pressure into the alveoli.

References

  1. Griese, M. (1999). Pulmonary surfactant in health and human lung diseases: state of the art.. Eur Rispar J. (9), 1455-1476.
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