AIMS--To compare the physical and physiological properties of a synthetic surfactant (Exosurf, Wellcome Foundation) and a natural surfactant (Curosurf, Chiesi Farmaceutici). METHODS--Surface properties of the surfactant suspensions (10 mg phospholipid/ml) were evaluated using the pulsating bubble surfactometer. Lung-thorax compliance was determined in 47 immature newborn rabbits with a gestational age of 27 days, treated with recommended clinical doses of either surfactant (Exosurf 67.5 mg/kg; Curosurf 200 mg/kg). The lungs were examined histologically. RESULTS--The mean (SD) contractile forces of the surface at maximum and minimum bubble size were significantly lower for Curosurf than for Exosurf: 31 (2) and 0 (0) mN/m v 53 (5) and 29 (4) mN/m, respectively. Mean (SD) lung-thorax compliance after one hour of ventilation was significantly higher in rabbits treated with Curosurf compared with animals receiving Exosurf or those serving as controls: 0.60 (0.15) ml/cm H2O.kg v 0.44 (0.03) and 0.34 (0.18) ml/cm H2O.kg, respectively. Both surfactants increased alveolar volume density compared with results for control animals, but only Curosurf significantly reduced the incidence of moderate or severe bronchiolar epithelial disruption. CONCLUSIONS--The natural surfactant, Curosurf, reduced the contractile force at an air-liquid interface to a greater extent than the synthetic surfactant, Exosurf, and led to a greater improvement in compliance and less airway epithelial damage when given in clinical treatment doses to immature rabbits.
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