Bronchiectasis exacerbation: a narrative review of causes, risk factors, management and prevention

Hayoung Choi, James D. Chalmers (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

107 Downloads (Pure)


Background and Objective: Bronchiectasis exacerbations are significant events in the natural course of the disease and determine long-term clinical outcomes. This review aims to discuss the definition, causes, risk factors, management and prevention of bronchiectasis exacerbations.

Methods: The PubMed database was searched for relevant articles published in English between January 1990 and March 2022 using keywords "bronchiectasis" and "exacerbation".

Key Content and Findings: Causes of bronchiectasis exacerbation are multifactorial; it can be associated with bacterial and viral pathogens, host inflammatory responses, and external environmental effects. In addition, recent advances in bronchiectasis research highlight the phenotype of patients who are more prone to exacerbations, including those with chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection, worse symptoms, greater lung inflammation and comorbid airway diseases. Once bronchiectasis exacerbations occur, antibiotics are the mainstay treatment. Preventing exacerbations is of paramount importance because frequent exacerbations are linked to a detrimental disease course and higher mortality. To prevent frequent exacerbations, clinicians should attempt to understand the risk factors for exacerbation that are amenable to therapeutic intervention: so called "treatable traits". Treatments are personalised but include improving mucociliary clearance by physiotherapy and mucoactive therapy, reducing airway infection by inhaled antibiotics, and inflammation by long-term macrolide or in specific subpopulations, inhaled corticosteroids (ICS). Novel approaches to prevent exacerbations including direct anti-inflammatory therapies are in development for bronchiectasis.

Conclusions: Future research is needed to better manage and prevent exacerbations in patients with bronchiectasis, although recent studies have characterised frequent exacerbator phenotype and enhanced our understanding of various aspects of exacerbations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
Early online date16 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2023


  • Bronchiectasis
  • exacerbations
  • therapeutics
  • inflammation
  • respiratory infections


Dive into the research topics of 'Bronchiectasis exacerbation: a narrative review of causes, risk factors, management and prevention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this