Crit Care. 2021 Dec 19;25(1):440. doi: 10.1186/s13054-021-03815-y.
Oxygen (O2) toxicity remains a concern, particularly to the lung. This is mainly related to excessive production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Supplemental O2, i.e. inspiratory O2 concentrations (FIO2) > 0.21 may cause hyperoxaemia (i.e. arterial (a) PO2 > 100 mmHg) and, subsequently, hyperoxia (increased tissue O2 concentration), thereby enhancing ROS formation. Here, we review the pathophysiology of O2 toxicity and the potential harms of supplemental O2 in various ICU conditions. The current evidence base suggests that PaO2 > 300 mmHg (40 kPa) should be avoided, but it remains uncertain whether there is an "optimal level" which may vary for given clinical conditions. Since even moderately supra-physiological PaO2 may be associated with deleterious side effects, it seems advisable at present to titrate O2 to maintain PaO2 within the normal range, avoiding both hypoxaemia and excess hyperoxaemia.