Human fetal lung (14-18 weeks gestation) was maintained in either organ or organotypic culture. By 4 days in organ culture or 14 days in organotypic culture, epithelial cells within both culture systems exhibited well-developed apical microvilli and possessed numerous intracellular lamellar bodies characteristic of surfactant phospholipid stores. However, analysis of the pattern of synthesis of individual molecular species of phosphatidylcholine by [14C]choline incorporation and reversed-phase h.p.l.c. showed that this apparent maturation was not paralleled by an increased synthesis of the dipalmitoyl species in either culture system. By contrast, the fractional synthesis of dipalmitoyl phosphatidylcholine, expressed as a percentage of total [14C]choline incorporation, decreased with time in both organ and organotypic culture. Moreover, these fractions were not significantly different from those measured in parallel monolayer cultures of mixed human fetal lung cells that displayed mainly fibroblast morphology. These results suggest that the synthesis pattern of phosphatidylcholine species by lung cells in culture is determined principally by their incubation conditions and not by their state of apparent maturation.
- © 1988 London: The Biochemical Society