Effect of smoking cessation on cough reflex sensitivity

P. V. Dicpinigaitis, B. Sitkauskiene, K. Stravinskaite, D. W. Appel, A. Negassa, R. Sakalauskas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Recent studies have shown that cigarette smokers have diminished cough reflex sensitivity compared with nonsmokers. The current authors proposed a mechanism of chronic cigarette smoke-induced desensitisation of airway cough receptors. To investigate this hypothesis, cough sensitivity to inhaled capsalcin (C5) in chronic smokers was measured both while they were actively smoking and 2, 6, 12 and 24 weeks after smoking cessation. In total, 29 subjects underwent baseline capsaicin challenge while smoking and 2 weeks after smoking cessation. Mean±SEM log C5 fell from 1.86 ± 0.12 to 1.60 ± 0.12, demonstrating significant enhancement of cough reflex sensitivity. Of the total, 20, 18 and 14 subjects successfully abstained from smoking for 6, 12 and 24 weeks, respectively. Mean log C5 values after 12 and 24 weeks of smoking cessation were significantly diminished from baseline. In a control group of smokers, mean log C5 did not decrease from baseline after 6,12 and 24 weeks. Overall, the log C5 profile of the smoking cessation group showed a clear, linearly decreasing trend over time compared with the control group. Even after many years of smoking, cough sensitivity is enhanced as early as 2 weeks after smoking cessation. Given the importance of an intact cough reflex, these changes may provide clinical benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)786-790
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Capsaicin
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Cough
  • Nicotine
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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