Study Examines Risk Factors for Bacterial Colonization in Bronchiectasis

Study Examines Risk Factors for Bacterial Colonization in Bronchiectasis

Among people with bronchiectasis, those more than 55 years old or who have bronchiectasis as a result of infection, are at an increased risk of being colonized with the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

This finding was published in the European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases in an article titled “Predicting factors for chronic colonization of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in bronchiectasis.”

The human body is home for many different kinds of bacteria; most are benign, but some cause health problems. It’s known that people with bronchiectasis who have P. aeruginosa infection in their lungs are at  increased risk of frequent exacerbations and more hospital stays. But the unanswered question remains, what makes an individual more likely to be colonized by P. aeruginosa in the first place?

To find out, researchers reviewed clinical data from 211 people with bronchiectasis who were treated at the Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, from 2012 to 2016. Most patients were men (54%), had never smoked (63%), and their average age was 60.

Results showed that one quarter (25%, 53 patients) of the patients were chronically colonized with P. aeruginosa, as determined by culturing sputum samples.

Compared to patients negative for P. aeruginosa, colonized patients were significantly more likely to be older than 55, and to be users of hypertonic saline and inhalation antibiotics. They also werevmore likely to have developed bronchiectasis following an infection or primary ciliary dyskinesia.

P. aeruginosa infection also was significantly more common among smokers, users of macrolides (a type of antibiotic), and patients with worse clinical scores, and more frequent hospital admissions.

However, the team noted, these are only associations, and should be interpreted with caution. For instance, patients who used inhaled antibiotics were more likely to have P. aeruginosa, but that’s probably because “inhalation antibiotics were solely given to patients with Pseudomonas colonization” the researchers wrote. That suggests the bacteria’s presence caused the increased antibiotic use, not the other way around.

“It is hard to determine whether the use of hypertonic saline is a cause or consequence of Pseudomonas colonization,” the team stated.

Still, overall, the data suggest that some bronchiectasis patient populations might be at a greater risk of P. aeruginosa colonization.

“Since prevention of P. aeruginosa colonization is an important aim in the treatment of bronchiectasis, more attention could be directed to these groups at risk for Pseudomonas colonization,” the team concluded.

Marisa holds an MS in Cellular and Molecular Pathology from the University of Pittsburgh, where she studied novel genetic drivers of ovarian cancer. She specializes in cancer biology, immunology, and genetics. Marisa began working with BioNews in 2018, and has written about science and health for SelfHacked and the Genetics Society of America. She also writes/composes musicals and coaches the University of Pittsburgh fencing club.
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Patrícia holds her PhD in Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases from the Leiden University Medical Center in Leiden, The Netherlands. She has studied Applied Biology at Universidade do Minho and was a postdoctoral research fellow at Instituto de Medicina Molecular in Lisbon, Portugal. Her work has been focused on molecular genetic traits of infectious agents such as viruses and parasites.
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Marisa holds an MS in Cellular and Molecular Pathology from the University of Pittsburgh, where she studied novel genetic drivers of ovarian cancer. She specializes in cancer biology, immunology, and genetics. Marisa began working with BioNews in 2018, and has written about science and health for SelfHacked and the Genetics Society of America. She also writes/composes musicals and coaches the University of Pittsburgh fencing club.
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6 comments

  1. Bj Brundage says:

    My husband died June 19th this year (2019) of this exact Pseudomonas colonization with bronchiectasis disease. never smoked. His infection was from aspirating after having stage 4 base of tongue cancer. If he had never swallowed after the feeding tube was removed, he would still be here. After extreme fevers for months, I was able to get him to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville where they discovered 2/3 of both lungs had food, mucus, infections, MRSA and pseudomonas. After Mayo clinic saved his life, he lived a somewhat enjoyable life for a few years. He was in/out of the hospital numerous times and about a year before passing, he started bleeding from the lungs…he was really, really sick. He was on multiple inhalers including Tobramycin, which kept him comfortable for several years. Unfortunately, he lost the ability to cough and was unable to cough out his mucus. It was a very difficult time until he made the decision (while in the hospital after 10 days) he couldn’t continue and asked the doctors to stop all the antibiotic IVs. He was transferred to Hospice and passed away 27 hours later when his lungs filled with mucus….but he was comfortable finally and was at peace after suffering for 8 years. We are believers and I know I’ll see him again. Thank you for all you do for this horrible disease.

  2. Gina Miller says:

    Really hoping researchers can find out if use of inhaled saline causes more infections or not. In messages posted in support groups online, most patients say they use it to prevent infection… my pulmo doc told me to nebulize daily with it.
    Thanks for all you do.

  3. Patti says:

    I have ABPA and bronchiectasis and am on 500mg once a week for the rest of my life. I am 85yrs old and still very active. It is frustra ting that there is no other treatment for these diseases.Iuse the Smartvest twice a day.

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