beta2 adrenergic agonists in acute lung injury? The heart of the matter

Crit Care. 2009;13(6):1011. doi: 10.1186/cc8171. Epub 2009 Dec 7.


Despite extensive research into its pathophysiology, acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome (ALI/ARDS) remains a devastating syndrome with mortality approaching 40%. Pharmacologic therapies that reduce the severity of lung injury in vivo and in vitro have not yet been translated to effective clinical treatment options, and innovative therapies are needed. Recently, the use of beta2 adrenergic agonists as potential therapy has gained considerable interest due to their ability to increase the resolution of pulmonary edema. However, the results of clinical trials of beta agonist therapy for ALI/ARDS have been conflicting in terms of benefit. In the previous issue of Critical Care, Briot and colleagues present evidence that may help clarify the inconsistent results. The authors demonstrate that, in oleic acid lung injury in dogs, the inotropic effect of beta agonists may recruit damaged pulmonary capillaries, leading to increased lung endothelial permeability.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Acute Lung Injury / drug therapy*
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dogs
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Pulmonary Circulation / drug effects
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Terbutaline / therapeutic use


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Terbutaline