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Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a devastating critical illness that can be triggered by a wide range of insults and remains associated with a high mortality of around 40%. The search for targeted treatment for ARDS has been disappointing, possibly due to the enormous heterogeneity within the syndrome. In this perspective from the European Respiratory Society research seminar on "Precision medicine in ARDS", we will summarise the current evidence for heterogeneity, explore the evidence in favour of precision medicine and provide a roadmap for further research in ARDS. There is evident variation in the presentation of ARDS on three distinct levels: 1) aetiological; 2) physiological and 3) biological, which leads us to the conclusion that there is no typical ARDS. The lack of a common presentation implies that intervention studies in patients with ARDS need to be phenotype aware and apply a precision medicine approach in order to avoid the lack of success in therapeutic trials that we faced in recent decades. Deeper phenotyping and integrative analysis of the sources of variation might result in identification of additional treatable traits that represent specific pathobiological mechanisms, or so-called endotypes.

Original publication




Journal article


European respiratory review : an official journal of the European Respiratory Society

Publication Date





Intensive Care, Amsterdam UMC - location AMC, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Humans, Phenotype, Precision Medicine, Respiratory Distress Syndrome