Mutations in genes linked to other lung diseases, specifically cystic fibrosis and primary ciliary dyskinesia, may also contribute to bronchiectasis, according to researchers from China.

Their study, “Next-generation sequencing for identifying genetic mutations in adults with bronchiectasis,” was published in the Journal of Thoracic Disease.

Bronchiectasis is characterized by the enlargement, damage, and scarring of the bronchi — the breathing structures of the lungs — due to defects in the airway defense mechanisms.

These include increased mucus production and damage to the tiny hairs (cilia) that line the inside of the airways, leading to a buildup of mucus which promotes bacteria growth.