Convergence of nasal and tracheal neural pathways in modulating the cough response in guinea pigs

J Physiol Pharmacol. 2009 Jun;60(2):89-93.


In the present study we investigated the possibility of central convergence of neural pathways coming from distant anatomical regions in modulating the cough response. We addressed this issue by inducing cough from the tracheo-bronchial region on the background of capsaicin-stimulated and mesocain-blocked nasal mucosa in 14 anesthetized guinea pigs. The control group consisted of 6 guinea pigs in which the active agents, capsaicin and mesocain, were substituted for by inert physiological saline. All animals were tracheostomized, and the larynx was disconnected from the proximal part of the trachea with preserved innervations, and all were subjected to the same protocol. Cough, induced by mechanical irritation of the tracheo-bronchial mucosa, was elicited three times: in the control condition, after intranasal capsaicin challenge, and after another capsaicin challenge preceded by intranasal instillation of a local anesthetic, mesocain. The main finding of the study was that the number of cough efforts per bout, assessed from positive deflections on the intrapleural pressure recordings, was significantly enhanced by intranasal capsaicin challenge and this effect was reversed by intranasal pretreatment with the anesthetic mesocain [2.1 +/-0.2 (control) vs. 3.5 +/-0.4 (capsaicin) vs. 2.2 +/-0.2 (capsaicin after mesocain) (P<0.01)], with no appreciable changes in the magnitude of cough efforts. The cough response in the control group remained unchanged. We conclude that tracheo-bronchial cough may be modified by neural sensory input to the brain coming from nasal mucosa. Therefore, cough reflex is subject to central convergence of peripheral neural pathways originating at distant anatomical locations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Anesthetics, Local / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Capsaicin / pharmacology
  • Cough / etiology
  • Cough / physiopathology*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Male
  • Nasal Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Nasal Mucosa / innervation
  • Neural Pathways / drug effects*
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Reflex / drug effects
  • Trachea / drug effects*
  • Trachea / innervation
  • Trimecaine / pharmacology


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Trimecaine
  • Capsaicin