Bronchiectasis is a highly complex entity that can be very challenging to investigate and manage. Patients are diverse in their aetiology, symptoms, risk of complications and outcomes. "Endotypes"- subtypes of disease with distinct biological mechanisms, has been proposed as a means of better managing bronchiectasis. This review discusses the emerging field of endotyping in bronchiectasis.
We searched PubMed and Google Scholar for randomized controlled trials (RCT), observational studies, systematic reviews and meta-analysis published from inception until October 2022, using the terms: "bronchiectasis", "endotypes", "biomarkers", "microbiome" and "inflammation". Exclusion criteria included commentaries and non-English language articles as well as case reports. Duplicate articles between databases were initially identified and appropriately excluded.
Studies identified suggest that it is possible to classify bronchiectasis patients into multiple endotypes deriving from their co-morbidities or underlying causes to complex infective or inflammatory endotypes. Specific biomarkers closely related to a particular endotype might be used to determine response to treatment and prognosis. The most clearly defined examples of endotypes in bronchiectasis are the underlying causes such as immunodeficiency or allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis where the underlying causes are clearly related to a specific treatment. The heterogeneity of bronchiectasis extends, however, far beyond aetiology and it is now possible to identify subtypes of disease based on inflammatory mechanisms such airway neutrophil extracellular traps and eosinophilia. In future biomarkers of host response and infection, including the microbiome may be useful to guide treatments and to increase the success of randomized trials.
Advances in the understanding the inflammatory pathways, microbiome, and genetics in bronchiectasis are key to move towards a personalized medicine in bronchiectasis.