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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Nature of airway inflammation and remodeling in chronic cough.

BACKGROUND: Chronic cough may be a result of asthma and non-asthma causes, but it is unclear whether there are specific inflammatory or remodeling changes. OBJECTIVE: We determined airway mucosal changes in patients presenting with asthmatic cough and cough associated with non-asthmatic causes. METHODS: Patients with chronic cough of non-asthmatic (n=33; postnasal drip/rhinitis in 6, gastroesophageal reflux in 5, bronchiectasis in 3, and idiopathic in 19) and asthmatic (n=14) causes and 15 healthy controls underwent fiberoptic bronchoscopy. Morphometry of bronchial biopsies and capsaicin cough sensitivity were assessed. RESULTS: Compared with controls, submucosal eosinophils and neutrophils were increased in patients with asthmatic cough (P<.005) and submucosal mast cells in patients with non-asthmatic cough (P=.01). Sub-basement membrane thickness, goblet cell area, vascularity, and vessel size were also increased in both groups. Smooth muscle area was higher only in patients with non-asthmatic cough (P=.0007 vs control and P=.019 vs asthmatic cough). None of the pathologic changes were related to the duration of coughing. Cough sensitivity was heightened in patients with non-asthmatic cough compared with controls and patients with asthmatic cough. The degree of goblet cell hyperplasia and epithelial shedding positively correlated with cough sensitivity in patients with non-asthmatic cough (r=0.43; P=.01; and r=0.40; P=.02, respectively). CONCLUSION: Features of airway wall remodeling are prominent in the airways with non-asthmatic as well as asthmatic cough. These are linked to chronic cough rather than to asthma. Mast cell hyperplasia rather than eosinophilia is distinctive for non-asthmatic cough.[1]


  1. Nature of airway inflammation and remodeling in chronic cough. Niimi, A., Torrego, A., Nicholson, A.G., Cosio, B.G., Oates, T.B., Chung, K.F. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. (2005) [Pubmed]
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