Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome

M. J. Murray, D. B. Coursin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS), though newly described, has manifested itself in intensive care unit (ICU) patients for several decades. As the name implies, it is a syndrome in which more than one organ system fails. Failure of these multiple organ systems may or may not be related to the initial injury or disease process for which the patient was admitted to the ICU. MODS is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in current ICU practice. While the pathophysiology of MODS is not completely known, much evidence indicates that, during the initial injury which precipitates ICU admission, a chain of events is initiated which results in activation of several endogenous metabolic pathways. These pathways release compounds which, in and of themselves, are usually cytoprotective. However, an over exuberant activation of these endogenous systems results in an inflammatory response which can lead to development of failure in distant organs. As these organs fail, they activate and propagate the systemic inflammatory response. No therapy has proven entirely efficacious at modulating this inflammatory response and the incidence and severity of MODS. In current ICU practice, treatment is focused on prevention and treating individual organ dysfunction as it develops. With increased understanding of the pathophysiology of MODS therapy will come newer modalities which inhibit or interfere with the propagation of the endogenous systemic inflammatory response. These newer therapies hold great promise and already some are undergoing clinical investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-510
Number of pages10
JournalYale Journal of Biology and Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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