Pulmonary vascular pruning in smokers with bronchiectasis

ERJ Open Res. 2018 Nov 23;4(4):00044-2018. doi: 10.1183/23120541.00044-2018. eCollection 2018 Oct.


There are few studies looking at the pulmonary circulation in subjects with bronchiectasis. We aimed to evaluate the intraparenchymal pulmonary vascular structure, using noncontrast chest computed tomography (CT), and its clinical implications in smokers with radiographic bronchiectasis. Visual bronchiectasis scoring and quantitative assessment of the intraparenchymal pulmonary vasculature were performed on CT scans from 486 smokers. Clinical, lung function and 6-min walk test (6MWT) data were also collected. The ratio of blood vessel volume in vessels <5 mm2 in cross-section (BV5) to total blood vessel volume (TBV) was used as measure of vascular pruning, with lower values indicating more pruning. Whole-lung and lobar BV5/TBV values were determined, and regression analyses were used to assess the differences in BV5/TBV between subjects with and without bronchiectasis. 155 (31.9%) smokers had bronchiectasis, which was, on average, mild in severity. Compared to subjects without bronchiectasis, those with lower-lobe bronchiectasis had greater vascular pruning in adjusted models. Among subjects with bronchiectasis, those with vascular pruning had lower forced expiratory volume in 1 s and 6MWT distance compared to those without vascular pruning. Smokers with mild radiographic bronchiectasis appear to have pruning of the distal pulmonary vasculature and this pruning is associated with measures of disease severity.