P. aeruginosa Infection Differs Between Cystic Fibrosis and Non-CF Bronchiectasis, Study Shows

P. aeruginosa Infection Differs Between Cystic Fibrosis and Non-CF Bronchiectasis, Study Shows

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, one of the most common types of bacteria present in severe lung infections, infects cystic fibrosis (CF) patients differently than those with non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis, according to a long-term study.

Researchers observed that these bacteria are more stable in CF patients than in non-CF bronchiectasis patients, and that the appearance of new strains was not necessarily associated with bronchiectasis exacerbations, as opposed to CF.

The study, “Epidemiology and natural history of Pseudomonas aeruginosa airway infections in non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis,” was published in the journal ERJ Open Research.

Infection with P. aeruginosa has been thoroughly studied in CF patients, since it is one of the main causes of lung deterioration and death in this patient population.

In non-CF bronchiectasis, the presence of these bacteria in patients’ airways has also been associated with worse lung function, poorer quality of life, and an increased death and complications. However, little is known about the evolution of P. aeruginosa infection in non-CF bronchiectasis patients, and what is currently known, has mainly been inferred from data on CF patients.

To better understand the infection process in non-CF bronchiectasis patients, researchers investigated the history and incidence of the disease, known as disease epidemiology, as well as the transmission characteristics and clinical outcomes associated with P. aeruginosa infections.

Bacterial samples that had been collected from patients between 1986 and 2011 were used in the study. Researchers included patients older than 18, who had two or more infections with P. aeruginosa over a minimum of six months.

In total, the team collected 203 samples of bacteria (isolates) from 39 patients. The genetic information within each isolate was analyzed, and the results compared with a large collection of CF types (strains) and other non-CF isolates.

Researchers were able to identify four patterns of infection in non-CF bronchiectasis that are not common in CF cases, including persistence of a single P. aeruginosa strain, in 67% of the patients; a change in the type of P. aeruginosa over the course of the infection, a process known as strain displacement, in 20% of patients; temporary disruption of the infection in 8%; and chaotic airway infection found in 5%.

However, these patterns were not significant predictors of lung function decline or disease progression. The acquisition of new strains was also not linked to the occurrence of lung exacerbations.

Genetic analysis indicated that the types of P. aeruginosa present in the airways of non-CF bronchiectasis patients appeared only in a few cases of CF patients and other non-CF diseases. Moreover, there was no patient-patient transmission of the bacteria among non-CF bronchiectasis patients.

Most notably, researchers highlighted the higher chances of strain displacement in the non-CF bronchiectasis group than those observed in CF studies. Nonetheless, this had no impact in clinical outcomes.

“While a majority of non-CF bronchiectasis patients experience persistent colonization by an individual P. aeruginosa strain, a higher than expected number of individuals were observed who experienced strain displacement over the course of their disease,” although “strain displacement was not linked with episodes of [pulmonary exacerbations],” the researchers wrote.

“Our longitudinal study of non-CF bronchiectasis patients has observed several distinctions in the epidemiology of P. aeruginosa infections as compared to CF, … whereas P. aeruginosa infections in CF adults are known to be relatively stable, strain displacement with unique strains was observed commonly in non-CF bronchiectasis,” they concluded.

“Furthermore, when new strains were observed, they were not necessarily associated with pulmonary exacerbation events, in a similar fashion to what has been previously observed in CF,” the team said, adding that “whereas cross-infection of P. aeruginosa has been observed in CF, we did not find any evidence of cross-infection amongst non-CF bronchiectasis patients.”


  1. Arlene Berman says:

    I am a 64 year old female with NCFBE since I was diagnosed at 42. I have had one exacerbation in 2011, hospitalized for 14 days with IV antibiotics. I did however leave with P. aeruginosa with instructions nebulize tobramycin 2x per day and hypertonic saline. Ventolin was used first each time. It took 2 years to clear up and since since 2014 it has not returned.

  2. Stephen Phillips says:

    I am a 73 year old male, diagnosed three and a half years ago with non-cf B. This followed a single significant event of reflux while sleeping, following a heavy, late meal, with aspiration. After coughing for a month non-stop, I resorted to seeing a doctor and with a HRCT test, the d’x was made, with P.a. the primary bug present, Since, average 3 hospitalizations per year, and a picc line with ceftazadime for a month. With the discovery of an additional strain of P.a., oral cipro is now added. I have wondered is the new strain is extrinsic, or intrinsic (arising from my original P.a.)?

  3. Lynda Narug says:

    I swear by inhaled antibiotic Cayston. I use it 3/day every 2 weeks on and off. After the first month no more pseudomonas was present in my monthly sputum cultures and now a year later it’s still gone. Its used in the supplied special nebulizer, runs on power or battery, easy to use.

  4. Indy says:


    I am a patient with chronic bronchiectasis with Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection and I have become resistant to various antibiotics.
    Could you please signpost me to someone who can help me please.

    • Sandra Vanvig says:

      Hi Indy,
      My best advice is to make an appointment at National Jewish Health in Denver, request Dr. Huitt. She specializes in bronchiectasis and NTM (which I also have had). She and they have been life savers. Three years ago I had parts of both lungs removed, but last summer I hiked 300 miles in Spain. Good Luck.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *