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Repair and recovery mechanisms following critical illness 

Repair and recovery mechanisms following critical illness
Repair and recovery mechanisms following critical illness

Geoffrey Bellingan

and Brijesh V. Patel

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date: 27 October 2021

Inflammation is the beneficial host response to foreign challenge or tissue injury that ultimately leads to the restoration of tissue structure and function. Critical illness is associated with an overwhelming and prolonged inflammatory activation. Resolution of the inflammatory response is an active process that requires removal of the inciting stimuli, cessation of the pro-inflammatory response, a timely coordinated removal of tissue leukocyte infiltration, a conversion from ‘toxic’ to reparative tissue environment, and restoration of normal tissue structure and function. Mortality may result from deficits in these resolution mechanisms. Improved delivery of critical care through prevention of harm and removal of stimuli has already delivered significant mortality benefits. Most critically-ill patients present with uncontrolled inflammation, hence anti-inflammatory strategies ameliorating this response are likely to be too late and thus futile. Rather, strategies augmenting endogenous pathways involved in the control and appropriate curtailment of such inflammatory responses may promote resolution, repair, and catabasis. Recent evidence showing that inflammation does not simply ‘fizzle out’, but its resolution involves an active and coordinated series of events. Dysfunction of these resolution checkpoints alters the normal inflammatory pathway, and is implicated in the induction and maintenance of states such as ARDS and sepsis. Improved understanding of resolution biology should provide translational pathways to not only improve survival, but also to prevent long-term morbidity resulting from tissue damage.

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