Respirable cotton dust, implicated in the pathogenesis of byssinosis, contains a number of bioactive compounds. These include lipopolysaccharide (LPS), tannins, bacterial peptides, byssinosin, iacinilene C, and 1,3-beta-D-glucan. The exact aetiological agent of byssinosis in such dust has not been definitively identified nor has its mechanism of action on lower lung surfaces been determined. In the present study 1,3-beta-D-glucan, Enterobacter agglomerans LPS, and ovine pulmonary surfactant were mixed in varying combinations. After incubation, their characteristics were determined by sucrose density centrifugation, TLC, and carbohydrate analysis. Precipitates were found in mixtures containing surfactant-glucan and surfactant-glucan-LPS, but not in surfactant-LPS. Precipitates were not seen in the surfactant, LPS, and glucan controls. The formation of a precipitate did not increase the density of the surfactant glucan mixture when compared by density gradient centrifugation with the surfactant control. The interaction between surfactant and glucan was analysed by molecular modelling. The energy of a surfactant-glucan complex (60.07 kcal/mol) was calculated to be much lower than the sum of glucan (47.09 kcal/mol) and surfactant (30.98 kcal/mol) when added separately. The results indicate that 1,3-beta-D-glucan does interact with surfactant and this complex may play a part in the pathogenesis of byssinosis by altering lung physiology maintained by pulmonary surfactant.
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