Effect of capsaicin on airway responsiveness to hypertonic saline challenge in asthmatic and non-asthmatic children

Pediatr Pulmonol. 1997 Jun;23(6):412-6. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1099-0496(199706)23:6<412::aid-ppul3>3.0.co;2-k.


Recurrent cough and asthma are common problems in children. In the evaluation of children with recurrent cough, the sequential measurements of airway responsiveness (AR) and capsaicin cough receptor sensitivity may be useful. However, the effect of capsaicin on AR induced by an indirect stimulus such as hypertonic saline (HS) is not known. Current evidence suggests that a common pathway is involved in both capsaicin and HS challenges. This study was designed to determine whether inhalation of capsaicin for the cough receptor sensitivity test before HS challenge will alter AR of asthmatic and non-asthmatic children to that challenge. Twenty-one children (12 asthmatics, 9 non-asthmatics; mean age, 11.3 years) performed the HS challenge alone or 2 min after capsaicin inhalation on 2 different days in random order. The end point of the capsaicin inhalation was when > or = 5 coughs were stimulated from a single inhalation. The power of the study was > 90% at a significance level of 0.05. Capsaicin inhalation prior to HS challenge did not alter the AR of normal children. In the asthmatic group, the PD15 (provocation dose causing a fall in forced expiratory volume in 1 s of > or = 15% from the baseline) without prior inhalation of capsaicin (mean, 2.44 +/- SEM 1.21 ml) was not significantly different from that when HS challenge was performed after capsaicin inhalation (mean, 2.19 +/- SEM 0.83 ml). The mean of the difference in log PD15 of the HS challenge with and without capsaicin was -0.02 (95% CI, -0.16, 0.12), i.e. within the equivalence range of the HS challenge in children with asthma. We conclude that in normal and asthmatic children, capsaicin inhalation does not alter AR to HS; consequently the capsaicin cough sensitivity test can be performed validly before an HS challenge.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Airway Resistance / drug effects*
  • Asthma / diagnosis*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests*
  • Capsaicin / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cough / chemically induced*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Recurrence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sodium Chloride / administration & dosage*


  • Sodium Chloride
  • Capsaicin