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Dengue is the most common mosquito-borne viral infection in the world. The most feared complication is a poorly understood vasculopathy that occurs in only a small minority of symptomatic individuals, especially children and young adults, but can result in potentially fatal dengue shock syndrome (DSS). Based mainly on expert opinion, WHO management guidelines for DSS recommend prompt infusion of a crystalloid fluid bolus followed by a tapering crystalloid fluid regimen, supplemented if necessary by boluses of synthetic colloid solutions. However, following publication of a number of major trials undertaken in other, primarily adult, critical care scenarios, use of both synthetic colloid solutions and of fluid boluses for volume expansion have become controversial. Synthetic colloids tend to be used for severe DSS cases in order to boost intravascular oncotic pressure, based on the classic Starling hypothesis in which opposing hydrostatic and oncotic forces determine fluid flow across the microvascular barrier. However, the revised Starling model emphasizes the critical contribution of the endothelial glycocalyx layer (EGL), indicating that it is the effective oncotic pressure gradient across the EGL not endothelial cells per se that opposes filtration. Based on several novel concepts that are integral to the revised Starling model, we review the clinical features of DSS and discuss a number of implications that are relevant for fluid management. We also highlight the need for context-specific clinical trials that address crucially important questions around the management of DSS.

Original publication




Journal article


Frontiers in medicine

Publication Date





Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.