Biological subphenotypes of acute respiratory distress syndrome may not reflect differences in alveolar inflammation.
Heijnen NFL., Hagens LA., Smit MR., Schultz MJ., van der Poll T., Schnabel RM., van der Horst ICC., Dickson RP., Bergmans DCJJ., Bos LDJ., BASIC consortium None.
Biological subphenotypes have been identified in acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) based on two parsimonious models: the "uninflamed" and "reactive" subphenotype (cluster-model) and "hypo-inflammatory" and "hyper-inflammatory" (latent class analysis (LCA) model). The distinction between the subphenotypes is mainly driven by inflammatory and coagulation markers in plasma. However, systemic inflammation is not specific for ARDS and it is unknown whether these subphenotypes also reflect differences in the alveolar compartment. Alveolar inflammation and dysbiosis of the lung microbiome have shown to be important mediators in the development of lung injury. This study aimed to determine whether the "reactive" or "hyper-inflammatory" biological subphenotype also had higher concentrations of inflammatory mediators and enrichment of gut-associated bacteria in the lung. Levels of alveolar inflammatory mediators myeloperoxidase (MPO), surfactant protein D (SPD), interleukin (IL)-1b, IL-6, IL-10, IL-8, interferon gamma (IFN-ƴ), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα) were determined in the mini-BAL fluid. Key features of the lung microbiome were measured: bacterial burden (16S rRNA gene copies/ml), community diversity (Shannon Diversity Index), and community composition. No statistically significant differences between the "uninflamed" and "reactive" ARDS subphenotypes were found in a selected set of alveolar inflammatory mediators and key features of the lung microbiome. LCA-derived subphenotypes and stratification based on cause of ARDS (direct vs. indirect) showed similar profiles, suggesting that current subphenotypes may not reflect the alveolar host response. It is important for future research to elucidate the pulmonary biology within each subphenotype properly, which is arguably a target for intervention.