Regulation of transferrin gene expression during lung development and injury

Funmei Yang, William E. Friedrichs, Jacqueline J. Coalson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Transferrin (TF), the major iron-transporting protein in vertebrates, is mainly synthesized in the liver. Although its source in lung is unknown, TF is a major inhibitor for lipid peroxidation and microbial propagation in lung fluid, and iron-free TF has been shown in rabbits to decrease the severity of respiratory failure and to improve surfactant activity. This study shows that TF is produced and secreted by the lung. In baboons and humans, TF gene expression displays distinct temporal patterns in different lung cells as revealed by in situ hybridization. Although expression of TF mRNA in submucosal glands remains active during development and throughout adulthood, its level in airway epithelia increases with advancing gestational age, reaches its peak before birth, declines 6-12 me after birth, and diminishes in the older adult. In premature baboons maintained on ventilatory support, expression of TF mRNA is suppressed in both airway epithelium and glands. TF production by airway epithelia before birth most likely prevents oxidative damage in the newborn period, and its loss during injury may allow further lung damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L417-L426
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number2 17-2
StatePublished - 1997


  • Airway and glandular epithelia
  • Bronchopulmonary dysplasia
  • Extracellular antioxidants
  • Hyperoxia
  • In situ hybridization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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