Sibila O, Suarez-Cuartin G, Rodrigo-Troyano A, Fardon TC, Finch S, Mateus EF, Garcia-Bellmunt L, Castillo D, Vidal S, Sanchez-Reus F, Restrepo MI, Chalmers JD

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Journal Ref: Respirology. 2015 Jul 14. doi: 10.1111/resp.12595. [Epub ahead of print]


Secreted mucins play a key role in antibacterial defence in the airway, but have not previously been characterized in non-cystic fibrosis (CF) bronchiectasis patients. We aim to investigate the relationship between secreted mucins levels and the presence of bacterial colonization due to potentially pathogenic microorganisms (PPM) in the airways of stable bronchiectasis patients.


Clinically stable bronchiectasis patients were studied prospectively at two centres. Patients with other pulmonary conditions were excluded. Spontaneous sputum was subject to bacterial culture, and secreted mucins (MUC2, MUC5AC and MUC5B) were measured in sputum supernatants by ELISA.


A total of 50 patients were included. PPM were identified from sputum samples in 30 (60%), with Pseudomonas aeruginosa (n = 10) and Haemophilus influenzae (n = 10) as the most common PPM. There were no baseline differences among airway colonized and non-colonized patients. Patients with airways colonized by PPM presented higher levels of airway MUC2. No differences in MUC5AC levels were found among groups, whereas MUC5B levels were undetectable. Patients with P. aeruginosa colonization expressed the highest levels of MUC2. High levels of MUC2 and MUC5AC are also correlated with disease severity using the Bronchiectasis Severity Index.


Airway MUC2 levels were higher in bronchiectasis patients colonized with PPM compared with those without airway colonization, especially in patients with P. aeruginosa. These findings suggest that airway-secreted mucins levels may play a role in the pathogenesis of airway infection in non-CF bronchiectasis.