Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a major cause of morbidity, death and cost in intensive care units. ARDS was first described in 1967, and the new definition was determined as the Berlin definition in 2011 in Berlin. ARDS is a syndrome of inflammation and increased permeability of the blood-gas barrier. Despite intensive research, treatments remain limited and supportive therapies represent the mainstay of the treatment of ARDS. This inability of therapeutic modalities largely depends on the complex pathogenesis of this syndrome with multiple overlapping signaling pathways activated depending on the type of lung injury. Today, this syndrome is still associated with a high morbidity and mortality. Animal models provide us a bridge between bench and bedside. Numerous different models have been developed in order to establish the properties of ARDS, but, to date, no single animal model that mimics all of the characteristics of ARDS in humans has been developed, and most of the existing animal models are relevant only for limited aspects of human ARDS. Furthermore, each animal model has unique features that affect responses to treatment. Therefore, when choosing an animal model of ARDS, to take into account the key feature of ARDS as a working hypothesis to be tested and then create the most appropriate model to exhibit those features is important. The goal of this review is to summarize the properties of the most commonly used experimental animal models of ARDS after mentioning briefly the causes and pathophysiology.
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