The arrival of cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) modulators as a new class of treatment for cystic fibrosis (CF) in 2012 represented a pivotal advance in disease management, as these small molecules directly target the upstream underlying protein defect. Further advancements in the development and scope of these genotype-specific therapies have been transformative for an increasing number of people with CF (PWCF). Despite clear improvements in CFTR function and clinical endpoints such as lung function, body mass index (BMI), and frequency of pulmonary exacerbations, current evidence suggests that CFTR modulators do not prevent continued decline in lung function, halt disease progression, or ameliorate pathogenic organisms in those with established lung disease. Furthermore, it remains unknown whether their restorative effects extend to dysfunctional CFTR expressed in phagocytes and other immune cells, which could modulate airway inflammation. In this review, we explore the effects of CFTR modulators on airway inflammation, infection, and their influence on the impaired pulmonary host defences associated with CF lung disease. We also consider the role of inflammation-directed therapies in light of the widespread clinical use of CFTR modulators and identify key areas for future research.

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PubMed