Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Dr. Ruud Veldhuizen

Second Advisor

Dr. Jim Lewis

Third Advisor

Dr. Fred Possmayer


Pulmonary surfactant (PS) forms a surface tension reducing film at the alveolar surface that helps to stabilize the lung. The structure of this lipid/protein surface film was investigated in normal and mechanically ventilated (MV) rats using a Langmuir balance and atomic force microscopy. This study first established the characteristics of normal rat PS structure and investigated the role of cholesterol. Normal rat PS showed compression- driven structural alterations detected as domains of lipids in different states of fluidity. These films also showed a unique domain-in-domain feature which disappeared after cholesterol removal. Cholesterol is suggested to be responsible for this feature. The second part of this study investigated the PS composition and structure in MV rats. Ventilated rats had altered PS composition and distinctly different film structure from normal rats. We concluded that MV altered PS composition and film structure, potentially contributing to PS dysfunction.



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