The endothelial glycocalyx in critical illness: A pediatric perspective

Academic Article


  • The vascular endothelium is the interface between circulating blood and end organs and thus has a critical role in preserving organ function. The endothelium is lined by a glycan-rich glycocalyx that uniquely contributes to endothelial function through its regulation of leukocyte and platelet interactions with the vessel wall, vascular permeability, coagulation, and vasoreactivity. Degradation of the endothelial glycocalyx can thus promote vascular dysfunction, inflammation propagation, and organ injury. The endothelial glycocalyx and its role in vascular pathophysiology has gained increasing attention over the last decade. While studies characterizing vascular glycocalyx injury and its downstream consequences in a host of adult human diseases and in animal models has burgeoned, studies evaluating glycocalyx damage in pediatric diseases are relatively few. As children have unique physiology that differs from adults, significant knowledge gaps remain in our understanding of the causes and effects of endothelial glycocalyx disintegrity in pediatric critical illness. In this narrative literature overview, we offer a unique perspective on the role of the endothelial glycocalyx in pediatric critical illness, drawing from adult and preclinical data in addition to pediatric clinical experience to elucidate how marked derangement of the endothelial surface layer may contribute to aberrant vascular biology in children. By calling attention to this nascent field, we hope to increase research efforts to address important knowledge gaps in pediatric vascular biology that may inform the development of novel therapeutic strategies.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Richter RP; Payne GA; Ambalavanan N; Gaggar A; Richter JR
  • Volume

  • 14