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Review
, 14 (1), 39-43

The Pathogenetic Mechanisms of Cough in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

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Review

The Pathogenetic Mechanisms of Cough in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Elena Bargagli et al. Intern Emerg Med.

Abstract

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a peripheral subpleural interstitial lung disorder limited to the lung not involving the airways. It has a poor prognosis (survival less than 5 years) and commonly an interstitial pneumonia radiological pattern. Patients complain of a chronic dry cough in 80% of cases. A cough is often the first symptom of this rare disease, preceding dyspnea by years, and is associated with a poor prognosis, high dyspnea scores and low FVC percentages. The pathogenetic mechanisms leading to coughing in IPF are unclear. This review focuses on recent evidence of cough pathophysiology in this disease. Gastroesophageal reflux may promote coughing in IPF patients; bile salts and pepsin may be abundant in BAL of these patients, inducing overproduction of TGF-β by airway epithelial cells and mesenchymal transition with fibroblast recruitment/activation and extracellular matrix deposition. Patients have an enhanced cough reflex to capsaicin and substance P with respect to control subjects. Moreover, patients with the MUC5B polymorphism show more severe coughing as MUC5B encodes for the dominant mucin in the honeycomb cysts of IPF patients. Comorbidities, including asthma, gastroesophageal reflux, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema, can induce coughing in IPF patients. There is no clear explanation of the causes of coughing in IPF. Further research into the pathophysiology of IPF and the pathogenetic mechanisms of coughing is necessary to improve survival and quality of life.

Keywords: Cough; Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; Pathogenesis.

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