An advanced recording and analysis system for the differentiation of guinea pig cough responses to citric acid and prostaglandin E2 in real time

PLoS One. 2019 May 22;14(5):e0217366. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217366. eCollection 2019.


Cough number and/or sound have been used to assess cough sensitivity/intensity and to discriminate cough patterns in clinical settings. However, to date, only manual counting of cough number in an offline manner is applied in animal cough studies, which diminishes the efficiency of cough identification and hinders the diagnostic discrimination of cough patterns, especially in animals with pulmonary diseases. This study aims to validate a novel recording/analysis system by which cough numbers are automatically counted and cough patterns are comprehensively differentiated in real time. The experiment was carried out in conscious guinea pigs exposed to aerosolized citric acid (CA, 150 mM) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2, 0.43 mM). Animal body posture (video), respiratory flow, and cough acoustics (audio) were simultaneously monitored and recorded. Cough number was counted automatically, and cough sound parameters including waveform, duration, power spectral density, spectrogram, and intensity, were analyzed in real time. Our results showed that CA- and PGE2-evoked coughs had the same cough numbers but completely different patterns [individual coughs vs. bout(s) of coughs]. Compared to CA-evoked coughs, PGE2-evoked coughs possess a longer latency, higher cough rate (coughs/min), shorter cough sound duration, lower cough sound intensity, and distinct cough waveforms and spectrograms. A few mucus- and wheeze-like coughs were noted in response to CA but not to PGE2. In conclusion, our recording/analysis system is capable of automatically counting the cough number and successfully differentiating the cough pattern by using valuable cough sound indexes in real time. Our system enhances the objectivity, accuracy, and efficiency of cough identification and count, improves the intensity evaluation, and offers ability for pattern discrimination compared to traditional types of cough identification. Importantly, this approach is beneficial for assessing the efficacy of putative antitussive drugs in animals without or with pulmonary diseases, particularly in cases without significant change in cough number.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Acoustics
  • Aerosols
  • Animals
  • Citric Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Cough / chemically induced*
  • Cough / physiopathology*
  • Dinoprostone / administration & dosage*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Humans
  • Hyperventilation / chemically induced
  • Hyperventilation / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Plethysmography, Whole Body
  • Respiratory Rate / drug effects
  • Tidal Volume / drug effects
  • Video Recording


  • Aerosols
  • Citric Acid
  • Dinoprostone

Grants and funding

This study is internally funded by Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute.