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Thorax. 2008 Oct;63(10):903-9. doi: 10.1136/thx.2007.087387. Epub 2008 Jun 17.

Angiopoietin-2, permeability oedema, occurrence and severity of ALI/ARDS in septic and non-septic critically ill patients.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, VU University Medical Centre, Van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Angiopoietin-2 and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) may impair vascular barrier function while angiopoietin-1 may protect it. It was hypothesised that circulating angiopoietin-2 is associated with pulmonary permeability oedema and severity of acute lung injury (ALI)/acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) during septic or non-septic critical illness.


Plasma levels of angiopoietin-1 and angiopoietin-2 were measured in mechanically ventilated patients (24 with sepsis, 88 without sepsis), together with the pulmonary leak index (PLI) for 67-gallium-labelled transferrin and extravascular lung water (EVLW) by transpulmonary thermal-dye dilution as measures of pulmonary permeability and oedema, respectively. ALI/ARDS was characterised by consensus criteria and the lung injury score (LIS). Plasma VEGF and von Willebrand factor (VWF) levels were assayed.


Angiopoietin-2, VWF, PLI, EVLW and LIS were higher in patients with sepsis than in those without sepsis and higher in patients with ALI/ARDS (n = 10/12 in sepsis, n = 19/8 in non-sepsis) than in those without. VEGF was also higher in patients with sepsis than in those without. Patients with high PLI, regardless of EVLW, had higher angiopoietin-2 levels than patients with normal PLI and EVLW. Angiopoietin-2 correlated with the PLI, LIS and VWF levels (minimum r = 0.34, p<0.001) but not with EVLW. Angiopoietin-2 and VWF were predictive for ARDS in receiver operating characteristic curves (minimum area under the curve = 0.69, p = 0.006). Angiopoietin-1 and VEGF did not relate to the permeability oedema of ALI/ARDS.


Circulating angiopoietin-2 is associated with pulmonary permeability oedema, occurrence and severity of ALI/ARDS in patients with and without sepsis. The correlation of angiopoietin-2 with VWF suggests activated endothelium as a common source.

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