Inhaled non-steroid anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) for children and adults with bronchiectasis

People with bronchiectasis experience chronic inflammation of the lungs. Anti-inflammatory effects of inhaled non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be beneficial for patients with bronchiectasis. However, short-term and long-term benefits in adults and children must be investigated, in addition to potential side effects of NSAIDs used over the long term.


We included one small study on 25 people with chronic lung disease. Of those 25, only eight people had bronchiectasis. Other individuals had chronic bronchitis of diffuse panbronchiolitis and were at risk for bronchiectasis. However, we must remember when interpreting the results that not all study participants had bronchiectasis.

Overall, the small study reported improvement in sputum production and dyspnoea (shortness of breath) in adults with chronic lung disease (chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis or diffuse panbronchiolitis) who received inhaled indomethacin compared with placebo. Researchers observed no significant improvement in lung function (forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and vital capacity (VC)) and reported no adverse events.


The small scale of this study and collective analysis of data from the three disease states made it difficult for review authors to draw solid conclusions on the benefit of using NSAIDs to treat adults with bronchiectasis. Review authors identified no studies examining the use of NSAIDs in children with bronchiectasis.

Authors' conclusions: 

No new studies of adults or children have been conducted since the last version of this review was published. Therefore, final conclusions have not changed. Current evidence is insufficient to support or refute the use of inhaled NSAIDs for the management of bronchiectasis in adults or children. One small trial reported a reduction in sputum production and improved dyspnoea among adults with chronic lung disease who were treated with inhaled indomethacin, indicating that additional studies on the efficacy of NSAIDs for treatment of patients with bronchiectasis are warranted.

Read the full abstract...

Chronic neutrophilic inflammation, in both the presence and absence of infection, is a feature of bronchiectasis in adults and children. The anti-inflammatory properties of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be beneficial in reducing airway inflammation, thus potentially improving lung function and quality of life in patients with bronchiectasis.


To evaluate the efficacy of inhaled NSAIDs in the management of non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis in children and adults:

• during stable bronchiectasis; and

• for reduction of:

∘ severity and frequency of acute respiratory exacerbations; and

∘ long-term pulmonary decline.

Search strategy: 

We searched the Cochrane Airways Group Trials Register, which includes reports identified from the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL). We also searched the trial registry and the World Health Organization (WHO) trial portal. We carried out the latest searches on 22 September 2015.

Selection criteria: 

All randomised controlled trials comparing inhaled NSAIDs versus a control (placebo or usual treatment) in children or adults with bronchiectasis not related to cystic fibrosis.

Data collection and analysis: 

We reviewed the results of searches against predetermined criteria for inclusion.

Main results: 

One small, short-term trial was eligible for inclusion. We included this study of 25 adults with chronic lung disease (only 32% of people included in the trial had bronchiectasis), as the other conditions were linked to development of bronchiectasis, and all were characterised by chronic sputum production. We were not able to obtain separate data for people with a diagnosis of bronchiectasis. We judged that the study was at a high risk of selection bias.

The primary outcome (mean difference in control of bronchiectasis severity, quality of life (Qol), cough scores) was not reported in the included study. The single trial in adults reported a significant reduction in sputum production over 14 days for the treatment group (inhaled indomethacin) compared with the placebo group (mean difference (MD) -75.00 g/day; 95% confidence interval (CI) -134.61 to -15.39) and a significant improvement in the Borg Dyspnoea Scale score (MD -1.90, 95% CI -3.15 to -0.65). We noted no significant differences between groups in lung function or blood indices and no reported adverse events.

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