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Ventilation-Induced Lung Injury

  1. Ulrike Uhlig,
  2. Stefan Uhlig

Published Online: 1 APR 2011

DOI: 10.1002/cphy.c100004

Comprehensive Physiology

Comprehensive Physiology

How to Cite

Uhlig, U. and Uhlig, S. 2011. Ventilation-Induced Lung Injury. Comprehensive Physiology. 1:635–661.

Author Information

  1. Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, Medical Faculty, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 APR 2011


Mechanical ventilation (MV) is, by definition, the application of external forces to the lungs. Depending on their magnitude, these forces can cause a continuum of pathophysiological alterations ranging from the stimulation of inflammation to the disruption of cell-cell contacts and cell membranes. These side effects of MV are particularly relevant for patients with inhomogeneously injured lungs such as in acute lung injury (ALI). These patients require supraphysiological ventilation pressures to guarantee even the most modest gas exchange. In this situation, ventilation causes additional strain by overdistension of the yet non-injured region, and additional stress that forms because of the interdependence between intact and atelectatic areas. Cells are equipped with elaborate mechanotransduction machineries that respond to strain and stress by the activation of inflammation and repair mechanisms. Inflammation is the fundamental response of the host to external assaults, be they of mechanical or of microbial origin and can, if excessive, injure the parenchymal tissue leading to ALI. Here, we will discuss the forces generated by MV and how they may injure the lungs mechanically and through inflammation. We will give an overview of the mechanotransduction and how it leads to inflammation and review studies demonstrating that ventilator-induced lung injury can be prevented by blocking pathways of mechanotransduction or inflammation. © 2011 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 1:635-661, 2011.