Background: Previous studies report a high frequency of mutations in the cystic fibrosis (CF) transmembrane conductance regulator gene (CFTR) in patients with idiopathic bronchiectasis. However, most studies have based their findings on preselected patient groups or have performed limited testing for CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) dysfunction. The objective of our study was to evaluate the prevalence of CFTR gene mutations and/or CFTR-related ion channel abnormalities among subjects with idiopathic chronic sinopulmonary disease and the prevalence of CF or a CFTR-related disorder in this population.
Methods: We evaluated 72 prospectively enrolled patients from 1995 to 2005 at the Hospital for Sick Children and St. Michael’s Hospital with idiopathic chronic sinopulmonary disease for evidence of CFTR-mediated abnormalities. We performed CFTR genotyping and assessed CFTR function using sweat testing and nasal potential difference testing. The results were compared with data from healthy control subjects, CF heterozygotes, and patients with CF.
Results: The CFTR functional tests in idiopathic sinopulmonary patients showed a continuous spectrum, ranging from normal to values typically seen in individuals with CF. Forty-eight patients (66%) demonstrated CFTR mutations and/or abnormalities of CFTR function. Twenty-two (31%) fulfilled criteria for a diagnosis of CF and 26 (36%) for a CFTR-related disorder with a strong female preponderance. Functional tests, more than genotyping, were instrumental in establishing a CF diagnosis. Clinical features failed to distinguish subjects with CF from those with CFTR-related or idiopathic disease.
Conclusions: The high prevalence of CF and CFTR dysfunction among patients with idiopathic chronic sinopulmonary disease underscores the need for extensive diagnostic evaluation for CF.