First published June 1, 1986 - More info
The lung alveolar surface is composed of types I and II epithelial cells. Extremely attenuated type I cells cover 90% of the surface and are prone to necrosis during acute lung injury. After denudation of type I cells, the alveolar epithelium is restored by proliferation of type II cells. During reepithelialization in vivo the type II cells have been observed to reorganize on an extracellular matrix that contains fibronectin. We thus sought to determine whether type II cells would adhere to purified fibronectin. Adherence assays of primary rat type II cells were performed in protein-coated bacteriologic microtiter wells for 24 h at 37 degrees C. Concentrations of fibronectin from 1 to 300 micrograms/ml mediated type II cell adherence, 10 micrograms/ml gave maximal adherence, and 4 micrograms/ml gave 50% maximal adherence. Adherence progressively increased from 1 to 72 h. Adherence on fibronectin was at least 50% greater than adherence on laminin, types I and III collagen, or IV collagen. Little or no adherence was observed on bacteriologic plastic or albumin. Spreading on these various substrata paralleled adherence. Adherence to fibronectin, laminin, and fibrinogen was specifically blocked by their respective polyclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies (MoAb) to the fibronectin cell-attachment domain blocked adherence to fibronectin, whereas MoAb to other domains did not. From the data reported here and the previously mentioned in vivo study we propose that fibronectin is an important functional component of the extracellular matrix that supports type II cells during alveolar reepithelialization.