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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2000 Oct;89(4):1645-55.

Invited review: mechanisms of ventilator-induced lung injury: a perspective.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, St. Michael's Hospital, and University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Despite advances in critical care, the mortality rate in patients with acute lung injury remains high. Furthermore, most patients who die do so from multisystem organ failure. It has been postulated that ventilator-induced lung injury plays a key role in determining the negative clinical outcome of patients exposed to mechanical ventilation. How mechanical ventilation exerts its detrimental effect is as of yet unknown, but it appears that overdistension of lung units or shear forces generated during repetitive opening and closing of atelectatic lung units exacerbates, or even initiates, significant lung injury and inflammation. The term "biotrauma" has recently been elaborated to describe the process by which stress produced by mechanical ventilation leads to the upregulation of an inflammatory response. For mechanical ventilation to exert its deleterious effect, cells are required to sense mechanical forces and activate intracellular signaling pathways able to communicate the information to its interior. This information must then be integrated in the nucleus, and an appropriate response must be generated to implement and/or modulate its response and that of neighboring cells. In this review, we present a perspective on ventilator-induced lung injury with a focus on mechanisms and clinical implications. We highlight some of the most recent findings, which we believe contribute to the generation and propagation of ventilator-induced lung injury, placing a special emphasis on their implication for future research and clinical therapies.

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