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BackgroundBronchiectasis can result from infectious, genetic, immunological and allergic causes. 60-80% cases are idiopathic, but a well-recognised genetic cause is the motile ciliopathy, primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD). Diagnosis of PCD has management implications including addressing co-morbidities, implementing genetic and fertility counselling and future access to PCD-specific treatments. Diagnostic testing can be complex, however PCD genetic testing is rapidly moving from research into clinical diagnostics and would confirm the cause of bronchiectasis.MethodsThis observational study used genetic data from severe bronchiectasis patients recruited to the UK 100,000 Genomes Project and patients referred for gene panel testing within a tertiary respiratory hospital, Patients referred for genetic testing due to clinical suspicion of PCD were excluded from both analyses. Data was accessed from the British Thoracic Society audit, to investigate whether motile ciliopathies are underdiagnosed in people with bronchiectasis in the UK.ResultsPathogenic or likely pathogenic variants were identified in motile ciliopathy genes in 17/142 (12%) individuals by whole genome sequencing. Similarly in a single centre with access to pathological diagnostic facilities, 5-10% patients received a PCD diagnosis by gene panel, often linked to normal/inconclusive nasal nitric oxide and cilia functional test results. In 4,898 audited patients with bronchiectasis, <2% were tested for PCD and <1% received genetic testing.ConclusionsPCD is underdiagnosed as a cause of bronchiectasis. Increased uptake of genetic testing may help to identify bronchiectasis due to motile ciliopathies and ensure appropriate management.

Original publication




Journal article


The European respiratory journal

Publication Date



Respiratory Research Group, Molecular and cellular Medicine, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK


Genomics England Research Consortium