Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is defined as an acute-onset, progressive, hypoxic condition with radiographic bilateral lung infiltration, which develops after several diseases or injuries, and is not derived from hydrostatic pulmonary edema. One specific pathological finding of ARDS is diffuse alveolar damage. In 2012, in an effort to increase diagnostic specificity, a revised definition of ARDS was published in JAMA. However, no new parameters or biomarkers were adopted by the revised definition. Discriminating between ARDS and other similar diseases is critically important; however, only a few biomarkers are currently available for diagnostic purposes. Furthermore, predicting the severity, response to therapy, or outcome of the illness is also important for developing treatment strategies for each patient. However, the PaO2/FIO2 ratio is currently the sole clinical parameter used for this purpose. In parallel with progress in understanding the pathophysiology of ARDS, various humoral factors induced by inflammation and molecules derived from activated cells or injured tissues have been shown as potential biomarkers that may be applied in clinical practice. In this review, the current understanding of the basic pathophysiology of ARDS and associated candidate biomarkers will be discussed.
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