Vagal afferent nerves regulating the cough reflex

Brendan J. Canning, Nanako Mori, Stuart B. Mazzone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


Coughing is initiated by activation of mechanically and chemically sensitive vagal afferent nerves innervating the airways. All afferent nerve subtypes innervating the airways can modulate the cough reflex. Rapidly adapting and slowly adapting stretch receptors (RARs and SARs, respectively) innervating the intrapulmonary airways and lung may enhance and facilitate coughing. Activation of intrapulmonary C-fibers has been shown to inhibit coughing in anesthetized animals. Extrapulmonary C-fibers and RARs can initiate coughing upon activation. C-fiber-dependent coughing is uniquely sensitive to anesthesia. Tracheal and bronchial C-fibers may also interact with other afferents to enhance coughing. Recent studies in anesthetized guinea pigs have identified a myelinated afferent nerve subtype that can be differentiated from intrapulmonary RARs and SARs and play an essential role in initiating cough. Whether these "cough receptors" are the guinea pig equivalent of the irritant receptors described in the extrapulmonary airways of other species is unclear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-242
Number of pages20
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 28 2006


  • Bradykinin
  • C-fiber
  • Capsaicin
  • Rapidly adapting receptor
  • Slowly adapting receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Vagal afferent nerves regulating the cough reflex'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this