Non-CF bronchiectasis: Orphan disease no longer

Respir Med. 2020 May:166:105940. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2020.105940. Epub 2020 Mar 27.


Bronchiectasis is a complex, chronic respiratory condition, characterized by frequent cough and exertional dyspnea due to a range of conditions that include inherited mucociliary defects, inhalational airway injury, immunodeficiency states and prior respiratory infections. For years, bronchiectasis was classified as either being caused by cystic fibrosis or non-cystic fibrosis. Non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis, once considered an orphan disease, is more prevalent worldwide in part due to greater availability of chest computed tomographic imaging. Identification of the cause of non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis with the use of chest imaging, laboratory testing, and microbiologic assessment of airway secretions can lead to initiation of specific therapies aimed at slowing disease progression. Nonpharmacologic therapies such as airway clearance techniques and pulmonary rehabilitation improve patient symptoms. Inhaled corticosteroids should not be routinely prescribed unless concomitant asthma or COPD is present. Inhaled antibiotics prescribed to individuals with >3 exacerbations per year are well tolerated, reduce airway bacteria load and may reduce the frequency of exacerbations. Likewise, chronic macrolide therapy reduces the frequency of exacerbations. Medical therapies for cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis may not be effective in treatment of non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis.

Keywords: Bronchiectasis; Chronic pulmonary infection; Cystic fibrosis; Non-CF bronchiectasis; Non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Bronchiectasis / diagnosis*
  • Bronchiectasis / etiology*
  • Bronchiectasis / therapy
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Rare Diseases*
  • Respiratory System / microbiology
  • Respiratory Therapy / methods
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents