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Thorax. 2012 Nov;67(11):1006-13. doi: 10.1136/thoraxjnl-2011-200206. Epub 2011 Sep 20.

Immunity and bacterial colonisation in bronchiectasis.

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  • 1Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Lung Investigation and Sleep Department, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK. deborah.whitters@uhb.nhs.uk



Non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis is characterised by irreversibly dilated bronchi usually associated with chronic sputum production, bacterial colonisation of the lower respiratory tract, inflammation and frequent exacerbations. Irrespective of the underlying cause, this represents failure of the host defence to maintain sterility of the respiratory tract.


To review the interactions and associations of non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis with the inate and adaptive immune systems with particular emphasis on known failure of local defences established deficiencies of the adaptive immune system. In addition we wished to explore potential subtle changes in the host defence which can lead to bacterial colonisation together with bacterial factors that aid colonisation of the lower respiratory tract and impair antibiotic response. This latter concept is considered with particular reference to Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is often found in the airway secretions of patients with non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis and may act as a model for other organisms.


An extensive literature review was undertaken to provide a comprehensive review of immunity and bacterial colonisation in non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis, with focus on in vitro studies examining bacterial factors which may facilitate colonisation together with potential implications for management.


These themes provide a review of the current understanding of non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis together with areas for future research and potential therapeutic strategies.

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