Currently, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients and their physicians face a number of significant clinical challenges, one of which is the high degree of uncertainty related to chronic bronchial infection (CBI). By reviewing the current literature, several challenges can be identified, which should be considered as goals for research. One of these is to establish the bases for identifying the biological and clinical implications of the presence of potentially pathogenic microorganisms in the airways that should be more clearly elucidated according to the COPD phenotype. Another urgent area of research is the role of long-term preventive antibiotics. Clinical trials need to be carried out with inhaled antibiotic therapy to help clarify the profile of those antibiotics. The role of inhaled corticosteroids in patients with COPD and CBI needs to be studied to instruct the clinical management of these patients. Finally, it should be explored and confirmed whether a suitable antimicrobial treatment during exacerbations may contribute to breaking the vicious circle of CBI in COPD. The present review addresses the current state of the art in these areas to provide evidence which will enable us to progressively plan better healthcare for these patients.
Keywords: COPD; chronic bronchial infection; potentially pathogenic microorganism.