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Gen Physiol Biophys. 2014;33(2):145-55. doi: 10.4149/gpb_2013083. Epub 2014 Jan 22.

Potent cough suppression by physiologically active substance in human plasma.

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  • 1Research Division for Life Science, Kumamoto Health Science University, 325 Izumi-machi, Kita-ku, Kumamoto 861-5598, Japan.


Human plasma contains wide variety of bioactive proteins that have proved essential in therapeutic discovery. However many human plasma proteins remain orphans with unknown biological functions. Evidences suggest that some plasma components target the respiratory system. In the present study we adapted heparin affinity chromatography to fractionate human plasma for functional bioassay. Fractions from pooled human plasma yielded particular plasma fractions with strong cough suppressing effects. Purification yielded a fraction that was finally identified as an activated blood coagulation factor fXIa using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization/time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI/TOF-MS). The fraction almost completely suppressed coughs induced by either chemical or mechanical stimulation applied to larynx or bifurcation of guinea-pig trachea. Cough suppressing effect of the fraction and commercially available fXIa were one million times stronger than codeine and codeine only partially suppressed the mechanically triggered coughing in animal model. Recent reviews highlighted prominent shortcomings of current available antitussives, including narcotic opioids such as codeine and their unpleasant or intolerable side effects. Therefore, safer and more effective cough suppressants would be welcome, and present findings indicate that fXIa in human plasma as a very promising, new therapeutic candidate for effective antitussive action.

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