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Transfus Med Hemother. 2018 Oct;45(5):290-298. doi: 10.1159/000492950. Epub 2018 Sep 21.

The Pathogenic Involvement of Neutrophils in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury.

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Division of Hematology and Transfusion Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.


The acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a serious and common complication of multiple medical and surgical interventions, with sepsis, pneumonia, and aspiration of gastric contents being common risk factors. ARDS develops within 1 week of a known clinical insult or presents with new/worsening respiratory symptoms if the clinical insult is unknown. Approximately 40% of the ARDS cases have a fatal outcome. Transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI), on the other hand, is characterized by the occurrence of respiratory distress and acute lung injury, which presents within 6 h after administration of a blood transfusion. In contrast to ARDS, acute lung injury in TRALI is not attributable to another risk factor for acute lung injury. 'Possible TRALI', however, may have a clear temporal relationship to an alternative risk factor for acute lung injury. Risk factors for TRALI include chronic alcohol abuse and systemic inflammation. TRALI is the leading cause of transfusion-related fatalities. There are no specific therapies available for ARDS or TRALI as both have a complex and incompletely understood pathogenesis. Neutrophils (polymorphonuclear leukocytes; PMNs) have been suggested to be key effector cells in the pathogenesis of both syndromes. In the present paper, we summarize the literature with regard to PMN involvement in the pathogenesis of both ARDS and TRALI based on both human data as well as on animal models. The evidence generally supports a strong role for PMNs in both ARDS and TRALI. More research is required to shed light on the pathogenesis of these respiratory syndromes and to more thoroughly establish the nature of the PMN involvement, especially considering the heterogeneous etiologies of ARDS.


ARDS; Acute respiratory distress syndrome; Neutrophil; TRALI; Transfusion-related acute lung injury

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