Sleep and Breathing

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 33–39 | Cite as

Cough hypersensitivity in patients with obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome

  • Cuiqin Shi
  • Siwei Liang
  • Xianghuai Xu
  • Qiang Chen
  • Lan Wang
  • Li Yu
  • Hanjing Lv
  • Zhongmin QiuEmail author
Sleep Breathing Physiology and Disorders • Original Article



The purpose of this study was to investigate cough hypersensitivity and its potential mechanisms in patients with obstructive sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS).


Fifteen OSAHS patients, 12 simple snoring patients, and 15 healthy volunteers received cough sensitivity test and induced sputum cytology. Cough thresholds C2 and C5 (the minimum of capsaicin inducing ≥ 2 and ≥ 5 coughs, respectively), total cell count, cell differentials and the levels of bradykinin, histamine, prostaglandin E2, substance P, calcitonin gene-related peptide, pepsin, and interleukin-2 in the induced sputum detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay were compared. The linear correlation between lgC2 and lgC5 and apnea hypopnea index, cell differentials, and inflammatory mediators in the induced sputum was calculated in OSAHS patients.


OSAHS patients presented with a significant lower C2 and C5 (P < 0.01), increased lymphocyte but decreased macrophage and neutrophil proportions in the induced sputum (P < 0.01), and higher contents of substance P, calcitonin gene-related peptide and interleukin-2 (P < 0.01) but similar levels of bradykinin, pepsin, prostaglandin E2, and histamine (P > 0.05) in the supernatant of induced sputum, when compared with simple snoring patients and healthy volunteers. However, theses variable were comparable between simple snoring patients and healthy volunteers (P > 0.05). Finally, lgC2 or lgC5 was negatively related to apnea hypopnea index, lymphocyte percentage, and the levels of substance P, calcitonin gene-related peptide or interleukin-2 in the sputum (P < 0.01). There was a positive linear correlation between lymphocyte percentage and interleukin-2 level in the induced sputum (r = 0.63, P = 0.00).


OSAHS patients have a predisposition of cough hypersensitivity associated with airway inflammation.


Obstructive sleep apnea–hypopnea syndrome Cough sensitivity Airway inflammation Induced sputum Capsaicin 


Funding information

National Natural Science Foundation of China and Shanghai Shenkang Hospital Development Center provided financial support in the form of Nos. 81470276, 81670092, and SHDC12014120 funding. The sponsor had no role in the design or conduct of this research.

Compliance with ethical standards

This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of Tongji Hospital [LL(H)-10-06-2], and informed consent was obtained from each subject before study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Tongji HospitalTongji University School of MedicineShanghaiChina

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