Recent advances in genetic predisposition to clinical acute lung injury


It has been well established that acute lung injury (ALI), and the more severe presentation of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), constitute complex traits characterized by a multigenic and multifactorial etiology. Identification and validation of genetic variants contributing to disease susceptibility and severity has been hampered by the profound heterogeneity of the clinical phenotype and the role of environmental factors, which includes treatment, on outcome. The critical nature of ALI and ARDS, compounded by the impact of phenotypic heterogeneity, has rendered the amassing of sufficiently powered studies especially challenging. Nevertheless, progress has been made in the identification of genetic variants in select candidate genes, which has enhanced our understanding of the specific pathways involved in disease manifestation. Identification of novel candidate genes for which genetic association studies have confirmed a role in disease has been greatly aided by the powerful tool of high-throughput expression profiling. This article will review these studies to date, summarizing candidate genes associated with ALI and ARDS, acknowledging those that have been replicated in independent populations, with a special focus on the specific pathways for which candidate genes identified so far can be clustered

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