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Bronchiectasis in COPD patients: more than a comorbidity?

Authors Martinez-Garcia MA, Miravitlles M

Received 22 January 2017

Accepted for publication 13 April 2017

Published 11 May 2017 Volume 2017:12 Pages 1401—1411

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S132961

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Miguel Angel Martinez-Garcia,1,2 Marc Miravitlles2,3

1Pneumology Department, Hospital Universitario y Politécnico La Fe, Valencia, Spain; 2CIBER de Enfermedades Respiratorias (CIBERES), Spain; 3Pneumology Department, Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron, Barcelona, Spain

Abstract: Computed tomography scan images have been used to identify different radiological COPD phenotypes based on the presence and severity of emphysema, bronchial wall thickening, and bronchiectasis. Bronchiectasis is defined as an abnormal dilation of the bronchi, usually as a result of chronic airway inflammation and/or infection. The prevalence of bronchiectasis in patients with COPD is high, especially in advanced stages. The identification of bronchiectasis in COPD has been defined as a different clinical COPD phenotype with greater symptomatic severity, more frequent chronic bronchial infection and exacerbations, and poor prognosis. A causal association has not yet been proven, but it is biologically plausible that COPD, and particularly the infective and exacerbator COPD phenotypes, could be the cause of bronchiectasis without any other known etiology, beyond any mere association or comorbidity. The study of the relationship between COPD and bronchiectasis could have important clinical implications, since both diseases have different and complementary therapeutic approaches. Longitudinal studies are needed to investigate the development of bronchiectasis in COPD, and clinical trials with treatments aimed at reducing bacterial loads should be conducted to investigate their impact on the reduction of exacerbations and improvements in the long-term evolution of the disease.

Keywords: COPD, bronchiectasis, infection, exacerbations, natural history, clinical phenotype

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