Purpose of review: Multiple organ failure is the main cause of morbidity and mortality in acute lung injury (ALI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) patients. Moreover, survivors of both ALI and ARDS often show significant neurocognitive decline at discharge. These data suggest a deleterious organ crosstalk between lungs and distal organs. This article reviews the recent literature concerning the role of this organ crosstalk during ALI, ARDS, and mechanical ventilation, especially focusing on brain-lung communication.
Recent findings: Numerous pulmonary and extrapulmonary disorders could predispose critically ill patients to ALI and ARDS. Mechanical ventilation, although a lifesaving intervention, could contribute by modulating the mechanisms involved in the pathophysiology of lung damage and their impact on remote organs. Emerging clinical and experimental evidence supports the hypothesis of a multidirectional organ crosstalk between lungs and distal organs.
Summary: Organ crosstalk is an emerging area of research in lung disease in critically ill patients. The findings of these studies are clinically relevant and show the importance of an integrative approach in the management of critical patients. However, further studies are necessary to understand the complex interactions concurring in these pathologies.