Lung study points to therapies for chronic coughing disease

June 13, 2018, University of Edinburgh

Fresh insights into a potentially life-threatening lung disease that causes persistent coughing could pave the way for new therapies.

Scientists have discovered how the disease impairs key cells of the immune system, leaving patients prone to repeated caused by bacteria such as pneumonia.

Treatments that boost the antibacterial functions of these key cells could help to reduce the number of chest infections experienced by patients and improve their quality of life, researchers say.

The condition—called —is associated with a vicious cycle of bacterial and inflammation in the airways and lungs.

In healthy people, inflammation helps to clear infections but in patients with bronchiectasis, this process is not effective. This leads to further inflammation, which can instead damage the airways, leaving patients even more vulnerable to infections and causing even more .

The team from the University of Edinburgh focused on cells called neutrophils, which are the body's first line of defence against infections.

Patients with bronchiectasis have an excess of neutrophils in their airways compared with healthy people, so it was not understood why they are prone to repeated infections.

The researchers found that neutrophils from patients with bronchiectasis do not behave in the same way as those from healthy people—the neutrophils live longer, are more activated and have altered functions.

These cells were unable to kill bacteria as effectively as those from . This was worse during a new infection, and may help explain why patients were not able to clear bacteria from their body.

The study involved 18 patients with bronchiectasis, eight healthy volunteers and six pneumonia patients with no background .

The researchers say the findings warrant further investigation of how neutrophil function could be improved in bronchiectasis , and whether this could help stop the cycle of infections.

Around one in 1000 people in the UK are affected by bronchiectasis, which can be life-threatening. Patients experience symptoms including shortness of breath, chronic coughing and excessive phlegm production.

The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, was funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government and the UK Medical Research Council.

Dr. Pallavi Bedi, of the MRC Centre for Inflammation Research at the University of Edinburgh, said: "This study has identified that the key cells in bronchiectasis—the neutrophils—are reprogrammed and do not function as they normally should do. This should now help us to develop more targeted, non-antibiotic therapies in bronchiectasis. "

Explore further: Statins could ease coughing in lung disease patients, study finds

More information: Pallavi Bedi et al, Blood Neutrophils are Reprogrammed in Bronchiectasis., American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (2018). DOI: 10.1164/rccm.201712-2423OC

Related Stories

Statins could ease coughing in lung disease patients, study finds

March 24, 2014
Common cholesterol-lowering drugs could provide relief to patients suffering from a chronic lung disease, a study has shown.

'Dickensian' lung disease rates on the rise in UK pensioners

November 5, 2015
The number of people diagnosed with bronchiectasis, a lung condition thought to be a 'disease of the past', has risen considerably in the past decade and now affects more than 1% of UK pensioners, finds a new study by UCL, ...

A new treatment for antibiotic resistant bacteria and infectious disease

March 31, 2017
A study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, describes a new treatment pathway for antibiotic resistant bacteria and infectious diseases with benefits for patients and health care ...

Lung therapy hope for critical illness

May 8, 2017
Scientists have pinpointed a chemical signal that worsens inflammation linked to a life-threatening lung condition.

Research sheds light on a novel disease mechanism in chronic smokers

May 21, 2018
Research published in the journal Clinical Science suggests that an immune signalling protein called interleukin (IL)-26 is increased among chronic smokers with lung disease and this involvement reveals disease mechanisms ...

Breakthrough could give new hope to sufferers of Cystic Fibrosis

August 12, 2014
Cystic Fibrosis is a devastating genetic disease which afflicts over 10,000 children across the country. The disease results in a declining lung function, which in turn leads to a higher likelihood of developing lung infections. ...

Recommended for you

Tibetan sheep highly susceptible to human plague, originates from marmots

August 16, 2018
In the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, one of the region's highest risk areas for human plague, Himalayan marmots are the primary carriers of the infectious bacterium Y. pestis. Y. pestis infection can be transmitted to humans and ...

Autoimmunity plays role in development of COPD, study finds

August 16, 2018
Autoimmunity plays a role in the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study led by Georgia State University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center that analyzed human genome information ...

Reliable point-of-care blood test can help prevent toxoplasmosis

August 16, 2018
A recent study, performed in Chicago and Rabat, Morocco, found that a novel finger-prick test for infection with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii during pregnancy—and many other potential applications—is 100 percent sensitive ...

Scientists identify nearly 200 potential tuberculosis drug targets

August 16, 2018
Tuberculosis is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. Nearly 2 million people die every year from this infectious disease, and an estimated 2 billion people are chronically infected. The only vaccine, developed almost ...

First mouse model to mimic lung disease could speed discovery of more effective treatments

August 16, 2018
The biggest hurdle to finding effective therapies for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) – a life-threatening condition in which the lungs become scarred and breathing is increasingly difficult – has been the inability ...

Anticancer drug offers potential alternative to transplant for patients with liver failure

August 15, 2018
Patients suffering sudden liver failure could in the future benefit from a new treatment that could reduce the need for transplants, research published today shows.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.