From the Department of Pathology, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas (Dr Butt);
the Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (Dr Kurdowska);
and the Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Services, The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston (Dr Allen).
Acute lung injury (ALI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are a continuum of lung changes arising from a wide variety of lung injuries, frequently resulting in significant morbidity and frequently in death. Research regarding the molecular pathophysiology of ALI/ARDS is ongoing, with the aim toward developing prognostic molecular biomarkers and molecular-based therapy.
To review the clinical, radiologic, and pathologic features of ALI/ARDS; and the molecular pathophysiology of ALI/ARDS, with consideration of possible predictive/prognostic molecular biomarkers and possible molecular-based therapies.
Examination of the English-language medical literature regarding ALI and ARDS.
ARDS is primarily a clinicoradiologic diagnosis; however, lung biopsy plays an important diagnostic role in certain cases. A significant amount of progress has been made in the elucidation of ARDS pathophysiology and in predicting patient response, however, currently there is no viable predictive molecular biomarkers for predicting the severity of ARDS, or molecular-based ARDS therapies. The proinflammatory cytokines TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor α), interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-8, and IL-18 are among the most promising as biomarkers for predicting morbidity and mortality.