Mechanical ventilation-associated lung fibrosis in acute respiratory distress syndrome: a significant contributor to poor outcome

Anesthesiology. 2014 Jul;121(1):189-98. doi: 10.1097/ALN.0000000000000264.


One of the most challenging problems in critical care medicine is the management of patients with the acute respiratory distress syndrome. Increasing evidence from experimental and clinical studies suggests that mechanical ventilation, which is necessary for life support in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome, can cause lung fibrosis, which may significantly contribute to morbidity and mortality. The role of mechanical stress as an inciting factor for lung fibrosis versus its role in lung homeostasis and the restoration of normal pulmonary parenchymal architecture is poorly understood. In this review, the authors explore recent advances in the field of pulmonary fibrosis in the context of acute respiratory distress syndrome, concentrating on its relevance to the practice of mechanical ventilation, as commonly applied by anesthetists and intensivists. The authors focus the discussion on the thesis that mechanical ventilation-or more specifically, that ventilator-induced lung injury-may be a major contributor to lung fibrosis. The authors critically appraise possible mechanisms underlying the mechanical stress-induced lung fibrosis and highlight potential therapeutic strategies to mitigate this fibrosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / etiology*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / therapy
  • Respiration, Artificial / adverse effects*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / complications*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / therapy
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury / etiology*
  • Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury / metabolism
  • Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury / pathology
  • Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury / physiopathology
  • Ventilator-Induced Lung Injury / therapy