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Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2004 Dec 15;170(12):1276-80. Epub 2004 Sep 24.

Increased expression of transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 in airway nerves of chronic cough.

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Division of Allergy Research, Department of Pediatric Pneumology and Immunology, Charité Faculty of Medicine, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany.


Transient receptor potential vanniloid-1 (TRPV-1) mediates the cough response induced by the pepper extract capsaicin and is expressed in sensory nerves that innervate the airway wall. We determined the expression of TRPV-1 in the airways of patients with chronic persistent cough of diverse causes and with an enhanced capsaicin cough response. We obtained airway mucosal biopsies by fiberoptic bronchoscopy in 29 patients with chronic cough and 16 healthy volunteers without a cough. Immunostaining for nerve profiles with anti-protein gene product (PGP)-9.5 antibody showed no increase in nerve profiles in the airway epithelium of patients with chronic cough; however, with an anti-TRPV-1 antibody, there was a fivefold increase of TRPV-1 staining nerve profiles (p < 0.001). There was a significant correlation between capsaicin tussive response and the number of TRPV-1-positive nerves within the patients with cough. Our findings indicate that TRPV-1 receptors may contribute to an enhanced cough reflex and the cough response in chronic persistent cough of diverse causes.

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