Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a highly morbid lung pathology induced by exposure to chemical warfare agents, including vesicants, phosgene, chlorine, and ricin. In this review, we describe the pathology associated with the development of ARDS in humans and experimental models of acute lung injury following animal exposure to these high-priority threat agents. Potential future approaches to disease-modifying treatment used in preclinical animal studies, including antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, biologics, and mesenchymal stem cells, are also described. As respiratory pathologies, including ARDS, are the major cause of morbidity and mortality following exposure to chemical threat agents, understanding mechanisms of disease pathogenesis is key to the development of efficacious therapeutics beyond the primary intervention principle, which remains mechanical ventilation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-29
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 17 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


  • acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • chemical warfare agents
  • inflammation
  • mustards
  • oxidative stress


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