Bronchiectasis and inhaled tobramycin: A literature review

J. Stuart Elborn (Lead / Corresponding author), Francesco Blasi, Charles S. Haworth, Manfred Ballmann, Harm A. W. M. Tiddens, Marlène Murris-Espin, James D. Chalmers, André M. Cantin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Inhaled antibiotics have been incorporated into contemporary European and British guidelines for bronchiectasis, yet no inhaled antibiotics have been approved in the United States or Europe for the treatment of bronchiectasis not related to cystic fibrosis. Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection is common in patients with bronchiectasis, contributing to a cycle of progressive inflammation, exacerbations, and airway remodelling.

Objective: The aim of the current study was to identify and evaluate published studies of inhaled tobramycin solution or powder in patients with bronchiectasis and P. aeruginosa infection not associated with cystic fibrosis.

Methods: A literature review was conducted utilising the PubMed and Cochrane databases. Studies published in the English language that reported safety and/or efficacy outcomes of inhaled tobramycin either alone or in combination with other antibiotics were included.

Results: Seven clinical trials published between 1999 and 2021 were identified that met inclusion criteria. Inhaled tobramycin therapy was effective in reducing P. aeruginosa microbial density in the sputum of patients with bronchiectasis. Several studies demonstrated favourable impacts on hospitalisations, number and severity of exacerbations, and symptoms. Other studies were underpowered for these clinical outcomes or were exploratory in nature. Although tobramycin was generally well tolerated, some evidence of treatment-associated wheezing was reported.

Conclusions: In patients with bronchiectasis and chronic P. aeruginosa infection, inhaled tobramycin was effective in reducing the density of bacteria in sputum, which may be associated with additional clinical benefits. Definitive phase 3 trials of inhaled tobramycin in patients with bronchiectasis are indicated to determine clinical efficacy and long-term safety.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106728
Number of pages10
JournalRespiratory Medicine
Early online date31 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Bronchiectasis
  • Exacerbation
  • Microbial density
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Tobramycin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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