Acute respiratory distress syndrome: causes, pathophysiology, and phenotypes


Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a common clinical syndrome of acute respiratory failure as a result of diffuse lung inflammation and oedema. ARDS can be precipitated by a variety of causes. The pathophysiology of ARDS is complex and involves the activation and dysregulation of multiple overlapping and interacting pathways of injury, inflammation, and coagulation, both in the lung and systemically. Mechanical ventilation can contribute to a cycle of lung injury and inflammation. Resolution of inflammation is a coordinated process that requires downregulation of proinflammatory pathways and upregulation of anti-inflammatory pathways. The heterogeneity of the clinical syndrome, along with its biology, physiology, and radiology, has increasingly been recognised and incorporated into identification of phenotypes. A precision-medicine approach that improves the identification of more homogeneous ARDS phenotypes should lead to an improved understanding of its pathophysiological mechanisms and how they differ from patient to patient.


Bos LDJ, Ware LB. Acute respiratory distress syndrome: causes, pathophysiology, and phenotypes. Lancet. 2022 Oct 1;400(10358):1145-1156. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(22)01485-4. Epub 2022 Sep 4. PMID: 36070787.