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Open Badges Commentary

The lung and the brain: a dangerous cross-talk

Paolo Pelosi1* and Patricia RM Rocco2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgical Sciences and Integrated Diagnostics, University of Genoa; Largo Rosanna Benzi 8, 16132, Genoa, Italy

2 Laboratory of Pulmonary Investigation, Carlos Chagas Filho Biophysics Institute, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; Av. Carlos Chagas Filho, s/n, Rio de Janeiro, 21949-902, Brazil

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Critical Care 2011, 15:168  doi:10.1186/cc10259

See related research by Quilez et al.,

Published: 30 June 2011


Brain or lung injury or both are frequent causes of admission to intensive care units and are associated with high morbidity and mortality rates. Mechanical ventilation, which is commonly used in the management of these critically ill patients, can induce an inflammatory response, which may be involved in distal organ failure. Thus, there may be a complex crosstalk between the lungs and other organs, including the brain. Interestingly, survivors from acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome frequently have some cognitive deterioration at hospital discharge. Such neurologic dysfunction might be a secondary marker of injury and the neuroanatomical substrate for downstream impairment of other organs. Brainlung interactions have received little attention in the literature, but recent evidence suggests that both the lungs and brain can promote inflammation through common mediators. The present commentary discusses the main physiological issues related to brain-lung interactions.