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Crit Care. 2011;15(3):168. doi: 10.1186/cc10259. Epub 2011 Jun 30.

The lung and the brain: a dangerous cross-talk.

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Department of Surgical Sciences and Integrated Diagnostics, University of Genoa, Largo Rosanna Benzi 8, 16132, Genoa, Italy.


Brain or lung injury or both are frequent causes of admission to intensive care units and are associated with high morbidity and mortality rates. Mechanical ventilation, which is commonly used in the management of these critically ill patients, can induce an inflammatory response, which may be involved in distal organ failure. Thus, there may be a complex crosstalk between the lungs and other organs, including the brain. Interestingly, survivors from acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome frequently have some cognitive deterioration at hospital discharge. Such neurologic dysfunction might be a secondary marker of injury and the neuroanatomical substrate for downstream impairment of other organs. Brainlung interactions have received little attention in the literature, but recent evidence suggests that both the lungs and brain can promote inflammation through common mediators. The present commentary discusses the main physiological issues related to brain-lung interactions.

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