Clinical applications of pulmonary delivery of antibiotics

Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2015 May:85:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2014.10.009. Epub 2014 Oct 22.


The treatment of infection typically involves administration of antibiotics by a systemic route, such as intravenous or oral. However, pulmonary infections can also be approached by inhalation of antibiotics as the infection is more directly accessible via the airways, making inhalation delivery essentially topical administration. This approach offers deposition of high antimicrobial concentrations directly at the site of infection but with a potentially reduced systemic exposure. This review covers the evidence for aerosolized antibiotics for the treatment of a number of conditions such as cystic fibrosis (CF), where it has become the standard of care for chronic infection, as well as non-CF bronchiectasis, non-tuberculous mycobacteria, and ventilator-associated infection where such therapy does not have an approved indication but has been used with increasing frequency.

Keywords: Aerosol; Bronchiectasis; Cystic fibrosis; Inhaled antibiotics; Mycobacteria; Pneumocystis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Aerosols
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / drug therapy*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Mycobacterium Infections / drug therapy
  • Mycobacterium Infections / microbiology
  • Pneumocystis carinii / drug effects
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / drug therapy
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / microbiology
  • Pseudomonas Infections / drug therapy
  • Pseudomonas Infections / microbiology
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / drug effects


  • Aerosols
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents