Impaired antibacterial activity of neutrophils in bronchiectasis patients may be why they are so susceptible to chronic lung infections, according to researchers from the U.K.

Their study, “Blood Neutrophils are Reprogrammed in Bronchiectasis,” was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Bronchiectasis is associated with bacterial infections and inflammation in airways, which makes patients susceptible to ongoing cycles of infections and sustained damage.

Immune cells called neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, have a central role in the body’s defense against infections by eliminating pathogens through a process called phagocytosis.