Changes in cough reflex sensitivity after cessation and resumption of cigarette smoking

Brigita Sitkauskiene, Kristina Stravinskaite, Raimundas Sakalauskas, Peter V. Dicpinigaitis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Previous studies have shown that healthy cigarette smokers have diminished cough reflex sensitivity compared to healthy nonsmokers. We have recently demonstrated that cough reflex sensitivity is enhanced soon after smoking cessation, suggesting that diminished cough sensitivity in smokers results from chronic cigarette smoke-induced desensitization of airway cough receptors. In this study, we evaluated cough reflex sensitivity to capsaicin (C5) in 11 chronic smokers who had discontinued smoking for at least 2 weeks, and then resumed smoking. Two weeks after smoking cessation there was a significant enhancement of cough reflex sensitivity; mean (±SEM) log C5 decreased from 1.77±0.18 to 1.47±0.14 (p=0.01). All subjects resumed smoking after 2-12 weeks of abstinence. Repeat capsaicin cough challenge was performed 14-23 days after resumption of smoking. Mean log C5 increased compared to the last value obtained during the smoking cessation period: 1.42±0.15 vs. 1.77±0.16 (p=0.0004). Mean log C5 after resumption of smoking returned to almost exactly the baseline value. Our findings suggest that the sensitivity of airway cough receptors is a dynamic phenomenon, promptly affected and modulated by changes in environmental conditions, such as the presence or absence of cigarette smoke.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-243
Number of pages4
JournalPulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Capsaicin
  • Cough
  • Nicotine
  • Smoking
  • Smoking cessation
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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