Identification of persistent and resolving subphenotypes of acute hypoxemic respiratory failure in two independent cohorts

Neha A. Sathe, Leila R. Zelnick, Carmen Mikacenic, Eric D. Morrell, Pavan K. Bhatraju, J. Brennan McNeil, Susanna Kosamo, Catherine L. Hough, W. Conrad Liles, Lorraine B. Ware, Mark M. Wurfel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Acute hypoxemic respiratory failure (HRF) is associated with high morbidity and mortality, but its heterogeneity challenges the identification of effective therapies. Defining subphenotypes with distinct prognoses or biologic features can improve therapeutic trials, but prior work has focused on ARDS, which excludes many acute HRF patients. We aimed to characterize persistent and resolving subphenotypes in the broader HRF population. Methods: In this secondary analysis of 2 independent prospective ICU cohorts, we included adults with acute HRF, defined by invasive mechanical ventilation and PaO2-to-FIO2 ratio ≤ 300 on cohort enrollment (n = 768 in the discovery cohort and n = 1715 in the validation cohort). We classified patients as persistent HRF if still requiring mechanical ventilation with PaO2-to-FIO2 ratio ≤ 300 on day 3 following ICU admission, or resolving HRF if otherwise. We estimated relative risk of 28-day hospital mortality associated with persistent HRF, compared to resolving HRF, using generalized linear models. We also estimated fold difference in circulating biomarkers of inflammation and endothelial activation on cohort enrollment among persistent HRF compared to resolving HRF. Finally, we stratified our analyses by ARDS to understand whether this was driving differences between persistent and resolving HRF. Results: Over 50% developed persistent HRF in both the discovery (n = 386) and validation (n = 1032) cohorts. Persistent HRF was associated with higher risk of death relative to resolving HRF in both the discovery (1.68-fold, 95% CI 1.11, 2.54) and validation cohorts (1.93-fold, 95% CI 1.50, 2.47), after adjustment for age, sex, chronic respiratory illness, and acute illness severity on enrollment (APACHE-III in discovery, APACHE-II in validation). Patients with persistent HRF displayed higher biomarkers of inflammation (interleukin-6, interleukin-8) and endothelial dysfunction (angiopoietin-2) than resolving HRF after adjustment. Only half of persistent HRF patients had ARDS, yet exhibited higher mortality and biomarkers than resolving HRF regardless of whether they qualified for ARDS. Conclusion: Patients with persistent HRF are common and have higher mortality and elevated circulating markers of lung injury compared to resolving HRF, and yet only a subset are captured by ARDS definitions. Persistent HRF may represent a clinically important, inclusive target for future therapeutic trials in HRF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number336
JournalCritical Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • ARDS
  • Acute hypoxemic respiratory failure
  • Acute lung injury
  • Endophenotypes
  • Mechanical ventilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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