Hypersensitivity of pulmonary chemoreflex induced by poly-L-lysine: Role of cationic charge

Qihai Gu, Ruei Lung Lin, Thomas C. Vanaman, Lu Yuan Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This study was carried out to investigate the role of cationic charge in the hypersensitivity of pulmonary C-fibers induced by airway exposure to synthetic cationic protein poly-l-lysine (PLL) in anesthetized rats. Inhalation of PLL aerosol induced a distinctly irregular breathing pattern, and significantly enhanced the pulmonary chemoreflex responses to capsaicin. However, after the cationic charges were completely removed from PLL by succinylation, the succinylated PLL no longer produced any change in either the baseline breathing pattern or the reflex responses to capsaicin. In addition, the effects of PLL were also abolished after premixing it with a polyanion, poly-l-glutamic or poly-l-aspartic acid, before delivery. In sharp contrast, when delivered within 5 min after the PLL aerosol, these two polyanions were completely ineffective in reversing the effects of PLL. Electrophysiological recording of the afferent activity of single pulmonary C-fibers further supported our conclusion that the cationic charge carried by this protein is primarily responsible for generating the stimulatory and sensitizing effects of PLL on these afferents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-43
Number of pages13
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 28 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Robert F. Morton, Charlotte Randall and Wen-Bin Yang for their technical assistance. This study was supported by National Institute of Health grant HL58686 and the Kentucky Lung Cancer Research grant to L.-Y. Lee.


  • Airway hyperresponsiveness
  • Airway inflammation
  • Asthma
  • Cationic protein
  • Pulmonary C-fiber

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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