Effect of a single 1200 Mg dose of Mucinex® on mucociliary and cough clearance during an acute respiratory tract infection

Respir Med. 2015 Nov;109(11):1476-83. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2015.09.017. Epub 2015 Oct 9.


Background: Observational studies suggest that orally administered guaifenesin (GGE) may thin lower respiratory tract secretions but none have examined its effects on mucociliary and cough clearance (MCC/CC) during a respiratory tract infection (RTI). The current study was a randomized, parallel-group, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in non-smoking adults who suffered from an acute upper RTI.

Methods: We assessed the effects of a single dose of Mucinex(®) 1200 mg (2 × 600 mg extended release tablets) (ER GGE) on 1) MCC/CC by assessing the rate of removal from the lung of inhaled radioactive tracer particles (Tc99m-sulfur colloid), 2) sputum dynamic rheology by stress/strain creep transformation over the linear part of the curve, 3) sessile drop interfacial tension by the deNouy ring technique, and 4) subjective symptom measures. MCC was measured during the morning (period 1) and compared to that in the afternoon 4 h later (period 2) immediately following either drug (n = 19) or placebo (n = 19). For both period 1 and 2 subjects performed 60 voluntary coughs from 60 to 90 min after inhalation of radio-labeled aerosol for a measure of CC. Sputum properties were measured from subjects who expectorated sputum during the cough period post treatment (n = 8-12 for each cohort).

Results: We found no effect of ER GGE on MCC or CC compared to placebo. MCC through 60 min for period 1 vs. 2 = 8.3 vs. 11.8% (placebo) and = 9.7 vs. 11.1% (drug) (NS) and CC for period 1 vs. 2 was 9.9 vs. 9.1% (placebo) and 10.8 vs. 5.6% (drug) (NS). There was no significant difference in sputum biophysical properties after administration of drug or placebo.

Conclusions: There was no significant effect of a single dose of ER GGE on MCC/CC or on sputum biophysical properties compared to placebo in this population of adult patients with an acute RTI. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01114581.

Keywords: Airway clearance; Expectorant; Guaifenesin; Mucus.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Cough / drug therapy*
  • Cough / microbiology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Expectorants / pharmacokinetics
  • Expectorants / pharmacology
  • Expectorants / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Guaifenesin / pharmacokinetics
  • Guaifenesin / pharmacology
  • Guaifenesin / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucociliary Clearance / drug effects*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / complications
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / physiopathology
  • Rheology
  • Sputum / chemistry
  • Sputum / drug effects
  • Sputum / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Expectorants
  • Guaifenesin

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01114581