Airway inflammation and hypersensitivity induced by chronic smoking

Yu Ru Kou, Kevin Kwong, Lu Yuan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Airway hypersensitivity, characterized by enhanced excitability of airway sensory nerves, is a prominent pathophysiological feature in patients with airway inflammatory diseases. Although the underlying pathogenic mechanism is not fully understood, chronic airway inflammation is believed to be primarily responsible. Cigarette smoking is known to cause chronic airway inflammation, accompanied by airway hyperresponsiveness. Experimental evidence indicates that enhanced excitability of vagal bronchopulmonary sensory nerves and increased tachykinin synthesis in these nerves resulting from chronic inflammation are important contributing factors to the airway hyperresponsiveness. Multiple inflammatory mediators released from various types of structural and inflammatory cells are involved in the smoking-induced airway inflammation, which is mainly regulated by redox-sensitive signaling pathways and transcription factors. Furthermore, recent studies have reported potent sensitizing and stimulatory effects of these inflammatory mediators such as prostanoids and reactive oxygen species on these sensory nerves. In summary, these studies using cigarette smoking as an experimental approach have identified certain potentially important cell signaling pathways and underlying mechanisms of the airway hypersensitivity induced by chronic airway inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-405
Number of pages11
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 30 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The studies were supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health, USA ( HL58686 and HL67379 to LYL) and the National Science Council, ROC (NSC98-2320-B-010-016-MY3 to YRK).


  • Airway inflammation
  • Airway sensory nerves
  • Airway ypersensitivity
  • COPD
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Cough

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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