[Airway sensory nerve and tachykinins in asthma and COPD]

Pneumologie. 2006 Feb;60(2):80-5. doi: 10.1055/s-2005-915587.
[Article in German]


The airway nerve has gained importance in the field of respiratory research as it is known to have the capacity to release numerous mediators which can cause pulmonary effects in the airways. Meanwhile, a broad range of stimuli including capsaicin, bradykinin, hyperosmolar saline, tobacco smoke, allergens, ozone, inflammatory mediators and cold dry air have been shown to activate sensory nerve fibres to release neuropeptides such as the tachykinins substance P (SP) and neurokinin A (NKA) to mediate neurogenic inflammation. SP is synthesized in cell bodies of airway neurons of the trigeminal, jugulare and nodose ganglia. Following their release, tachykinins are degraded by neutral endopeptidase (NEP) and an angiotensin-converting enzyme. Tachykinins have been proposed to play an important role in human respiratory diseases such as bronchial asthma und chronic obstructive diseases (COPD) as they have been shown to have potent effects on the tone of airway smooth muscle, airway secretions, bronchial circulation and on inflammatory and immune cells by activation of the neurokinin-1 (NK-1) and neurokinin-2 (NK-2) receptors. Recently, new tachykinins such as virokinin and hemokinin were identified and characterised. Different aspects of the neurogenic inflammation have been well studied in animal models of allergic airway inflammation, but only little is known about the role of neurogenic airway inflammation in human diseases. To address the precise role of tachykinins and airway sensory nerves in human asthma und COPD, experiments on sensory nerve sensitisation and neuro-immune interaction have to be carried out in future studies.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Smooth / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Circulation
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Respiratory System / innervation*
  • Tachykinins / physiology*


  • Tachykinins