Purpose of review: Mechanical ventilation is the main supportive therapy for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome. As with any therapy, mechanical ventilation has side effects and may induce lung injury. This review will focus on stretch-dependent activation of alveolar epithelial and endothelial cells and polymorphonuclear leukocytes, and apoptosis/necrosis balance.
Recent findings: The past year has seen important research in the area of mechanotransduction and lung native immunity, suggesting further mechanisms of lung inflammation and injury in ventilator-induced lung injury. Research in the past year has also stressed the importance of inflammatory response by alveolar cells and role of polymorphonuclear leukocytes in stretch-induced lung injury and has suggested a role for apoptosis in the maintenance of the alveolar epithelium.
Summary: The proportion of patients receiving protective ventilatory strategies remains modest. If efforts to minimize the iatrogenic consequences of mechanical ventilation are to succeed, there must be a greater understanding of the signal transduction mechanisms and the development of potential pharmacologic targets to modulate the molecular and cellular effects of lung stretch.