Large numbers of viable organisms can be isolated from the corticosteroid-immunosuppressed rat model of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. With the development of purification protocols that provide organism preparations of high purity, meaningful lipid biochemical analyses of this important opportunistic pathogen can now be conducted. The phospholipid class composition of the pathogen was reported earlier, together with observations of changes that occur in the rat lungs in response to methylprednisolone immunosuppression treatment. In this report, analyses of the effects of corticosteroids on the fatty acid compositions of the major lung phospholipids, individually isolated and purified by thin-layer chromatography, were elucidated and quantified by gas-liquid chromatography. In response to methylprednisolone, there was a relative increase in palmitate and there were decreases in several unsaturated fatty acids of the rat whole-lung total polar lipids, leading to a doubling of the saturation index. Reciprocal changes in the relative concentrations of palmitate and stearate in phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylinositol, lysophosphatidylcholine, and cardiolipin were observed, suggesting that there is tight control of acylation of these phospholipids in the lung. Detailed phospholipid fatty acid analyses were also performed with mixed life cycle stages of P. carinii organisms. The most abundant phospholipids, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, and phosphatidylinositol, had much higher concentrations of oleic acid and lower concentrations of palmitate in P. carinii than in lung tissue. Sphingomyelin in lung tissue and P. carinii differed from the glycerophospholipids by the presence of high levels of saturated C22 and C24 fatty acids. This study represents the most comprehensive fatty acid analysis of rat lung phospholipids and the changes that occur in response to corticosteroid treatment. It is the first report about the fatty acids of individual phospholipids of the opportunistic protist P. carinii carinii.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases