Elevation of KL-6, a lung epithelial cell marker, in plasma and epithelial lining fluid in acute respiratory distress syndrome

Akitoshi Ishizaka, Tomoyuki Matsuda, Kurt H. Albertine, Hidefumi Koh, Sadatomo Tasaka, Naoki Hasegawa, Nobuoki Kohno, Toru Kotani, Hiroshi Morisaki, Junzo Takeda, Morio Nakamura, Xiaohui Fang, Thomas R. Martin, Michael A. Matthay, Satoru Hashimoto

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163 Citations (Scopus)


KL-6 is a pulmonary epithelial mucin more prominently expressed on the surface membrane of alveolar type II cells when these cells are proliferating, stimulated, and/or injured. We hypothesized that high levels of KL-6 in epithelial lining fluid and plasma would reflect the severity of lung injury in patients with acute lung injury (ALI). Epithelial lining fluid was obtained at onset (day 0) and day 1 of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)/ALI by bronchoscopic microsampling procedure in 35 patients. On day 0, KL-6 and albumin concentrations in epithelial lining fluid were significantly higher than in normal controls (P < 0.001), and the concentrations of KL-6 in epithelial lining fluid (P < 0.002) and in plasma (P < 0.0001) were higher in nonsurvivors than in survivors of ALI/ARDS. These observations were corroborated by the immunohistochemical localization of KL-6 protein expression in the lungs of nonsurvivors with ALI and KL-6 secretion from cultured human alveolar type II cells stimulated by proinflammatory cytokines. Because injury to distal lung epithelial cells, including alveolar type II cells, is important in the pathogenesis of ALI, the elevation of KL-6 concentrations in plasma and epithelial lining fluid could be valuable indicators for poor prognosis in clinical ALI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L1088-L1094
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number6 30-6
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Jun


  • Alveolar type II cell
  • Microsampling
  • Pulmonary edema

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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