Korean J Pediatr.  2019 May;62(5):155-161. 10.3345/kjp.2018.07185.

Surfactant preparations for preterm infants with respiratory distress syndrome: past, present, and future

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Inje University Busan Paik Hospital, Inje University College of Medicine, Busan, Korea. iamgawon@hanmail.net


Following the first successful trial of surfactant replacement therapy for preterm infants with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) by Fujiwara in 1980, several animal-derived natural surfactants and synthetic surfactants have been developed. Synthetic surfactants were designed to overcome limitations of natural surfactants such as cost, immune reactions, and infections elicited by animal proteins contained in natural surfactants. However, first-generation synthetic surfactants that are protein-free have failed to prove their superiority over natural surfactants because they lack surfactant protein (SP). Lucinactant, a second-generation synthetic surfactant containing the SP-B analog, was better or at least as effective as the natural surfactant, suggesting that lucinactant could act an alternative to natural surfactants. Lucinactant was approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration in March 2012 as the fifth surfactant to treat neonatal RDS. CHF5633, a second-generation synthetic surfactant containing SP-B and SP-C analogs, was effective and safe in a human multicenter cohort study for preterm infants. Many comparative studies of natural surfactants used worldwide have reported different efficacies for different preparations. However, these differences are believed to due to site variations, not actual differences. The more important thing than the composition of the surfactant in improving outcome is the timing and mode of administration of the surfactant. Novel synthetic surfactants containing synthetic phospholipid incorporated with SP-B and SP-C analogs will potentially represent alternatives to natural surfactants in the future, while improvement of treatment modalities with less-invasive or noninvasive methods of surfactant administration will be the most important task to be resolved.


Pulmonary surfactants; Preterm infant; Newborn respiratory distress syndrome; Calfactant; Poractant alfa

MeSH Terms

Cohort Studies
Infant, Newborn
Infant, Premature*
Pulmonary Surfactants
Surface-Active Agents
United States Food and Drug Administration
Pulmonary Surfactants
Surface-Active Agents
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