Airway irritation and cough evoked by acid: From human to ion channel

Qihai Gu, Lu Yuan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Inhalation or aspiration of acid solution evokes airway defense responses such as cough and reflex bronchoconstriction, resulting from activation of vagal bronchopulmonary C-fibers and Aδ afferents. The stimulatory effect of hydrogen ion on these sensory nerves is generated by activation of two major types of ion channels expressed in these neurons: a rapidly activating and inactivating current mediated through ASICs, and a slow sustaining current via activation of TRPV1. Recent studies have shown that these acid-evoked responses are elevated during airway inflammatory reaction, revealing the potential convergence of a wide array of inflammatory signaling on these ion channels. Since pH in the airway fluid drops substantially in patients with inflammatory airway diseases, these heightened stimulatory effects of acid on airway sensory nerves may play a part in the manifestation of airway irritation and excessive cough under those pathophysiological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-247
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Opinion in Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Marcus Geer for technical assistances. The work was supported in part by USPHS grants from the National Institutes of Health (HL58686 and HL96914 to L.Y.L.; AI76714 to Q.G.).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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