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Background: The Permissive Hypercapnia, Alveolar Recruitment and Low Airway Pressure (PHARLAP) randomised controlled trial compared an open lung ventilation strategy with control ventilation, and found that open lung ventilation did not reduce the number of ventilatorfree days (VFDs) or mortality in patients with moderate-to-severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Parsimonious models can identify distinct phenotypes of ARDS (hypo-inflammatory and hyperinflammatory) which are associated with different outcomes and treatment responses. Objective: To test the hypothesis that a parsimonious model would identify patients with distinctly different clinical outcomes in the PHARLAP study. Design, setting and participants: Blood and lung lavage samples were collected in a subset of PHARLAP patients who were recruited in Australian and New Zealand centres. A previously validated parsimonious model (interleukin-8, soluble tumour necrosis factor receptor-1 and bicarbonate) was used to classify patients with blood samples into hypo-inflammatory and hyperinflammatory groups. Generalised linear modelling was used to examine the interaction between inflammatory phenotype and treatment group (intervention or control). Main outcome measure: The primary outcome was number of VFDs at Day 28. Results: Data for the parsimonious model were available for 56 of 115 patients (49%). Within this subset, 38 patients (68%) and 18 patients (32%) were classified as having hypo-inflammatory and hyperinflammatory phenotypes, respectively. Patients with the hypo- inflammatory phenotype had more VFDs at Day 28 when compared with those with the hyperinflammatory phenotype (median [IQR], 19.5[11-24] versus 8[0-21];P= 0.03). Patients with the hyperinflammatory phenotype had numerically fewer VFDs when managed with an open lung strategy than when managed with control "protective" ventilation (median [IQR], 0 [0-19] versus 16 [8-22]). Conclusion: In the PHARLAP trial, ARDS patients classified as having a hyperinflammatory phenotype, with a parsimonious three-variable model, had fewer VFDs at Day 28 compared with patients classified as having a hypo-inflammatory phenotype. Future clinical studies of ventilatory strategies should consider incorporating distinct ARDS phenotypes into their trial design.

Original publication





Critical care and resuscitation : journal of the Australasian Academy of Critical Care Medicine

Publication Date





163 - 170


College of Medicine and Public Health- Flinders University-, Adelaide, - SA-, Australia.


PHARLAP Study Investigators