Neuroplasticity in vagal afferent neurons involved in cough

Tina Marie Lieu, Bradley J. Undem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neurotrophic factors are produced in the airways during allergic and viral inflammation. Their selective interaction with cognate receptors on sensory nerves likely accounts for some of the neuroplasticity that can accompany inflammatory diseases. We have previously described a nodose Aδ fiber in the guinea pig trachea that evokes cough upon stimulation. These nerves do not express TRPV1 and accordingly are capsaicin-insensitive. We evaluated the neurotrophic factor expression in nodose tracheal Aδ fiber neurons using single identified neuron RT-PCR. We found these neuron expressed mainly TRKB; the receptor for brain-derived neurotrophic factor, (BDNF) and NT4. They also expressed GFRα1; the receptor for glial-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF). Treating the trachea with BDNF, to activate the TRKB receptors, caused a phenotypic change in the vast majority of nodose Aδ neurons such that they expressed TRPV1. These results strengthen the conclusion that the phenotypic characteristics of afferent nerves involved in cough may vary, depending on the context in which they are studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-279
Number of pages4
JournalPulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • BDNF
  • GDNF
  • GFL
  • Neurotrophins
  • TRKB
  • TRPV1
  • Vagal reflex
  • Vagus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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