Perspectives on neuroinflammation contributing to chronic cough

Alexandria Driessen, Anna-Claire Devlin, Fionnuala Lundy, Lorraine Martin, Gerard P Sergeant, Stuart B Mazzone, Lorcan McGarvey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


Chronic cough can be a troublesome clinical problem. Current thinking is that increased activity and/or enhanced sensitivity of the peripheral and central neural pathways mediates chronic cough via processes similar to those associated with the development of chronic pain. While inflammation is widely thought to be involved in the development of chronic cough, the true mechanisms causing altered neural activity and sensitisation remain largely unknown. In this back-to-basic perspective article we explore evidence that inflammation in chronic cough may, at least in part, involve neuroinflammation orchestrated by glial cells of the nervous system. We summarise the extensive evidence for the role of both peripheral and central glial cells in chronic pain and hypothesise that the commonalities between the pain and cough pathogenesis and clinical presentation warrant investigations into the neuroinflammatory mechanisms that contribute to chronic cough. We open the debate that glial cells may represent an underappreciated therapeutic target for controlling troublesome cough in disease.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Early online date09 Jul 2020
Publication statusEarly online date - 09 Jul 2020


  • chronic cough
  • neuroinflammation
  • glial cells

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