Clinical and biological heterogeneity in acute respiratory distress syndrome: direct versus indirect lung injury.


The acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a heterogeneous group of illnesses affecting the pulmonary parenchyma with acute onset bilateral inflammatory pulmonary infiltrates with associated hypoxemia. ARDS occurs after 2 major types of pulmonary injury: direct lung injury affecting the lung epithelium or indirect lung injury disrupting the vascular endothelium. Greater understanding of the differences between direct and indirect lung injury may refine the classification of patients with ARDS and lead to development of new therapeutics targeted at specific subpopulations of patients with ARDS.