Plasticity of brainstem mechanisms of cough

Ann C. Bonham, Shin ichi Sekizawa, Chao-Yin Chen, Jesse P. Joad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The cough reflex is a brainstem reflex, consisting of specific sensory afferent nerves which trigger the reflex, by transmitting the sensory input over vagal or laryngeal nerves to a brainstem circuitry which processes and ultimately transforms the sensory input into a complex motor output to generate cough. The first synaptic target for the primary cough-related sensory input is the second-order neurons in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS). This position in the reflex pathway and intricate local circuits within the nucleus make it a strategic site where the sensory information can be modified. Plasticity at this synapse will change the nature of the output-exaggerating it, suppressing it or transforming it into some other complex pattern. This review integrates evidence implicating the NTS in exaggerated cough with proof of the concept that NTS neurons undergo plasticity to contribute to an exaggeration of cough.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-319
Number of pages8
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 28 2006


  • Brainstem
  • Control of cough
  • Nucleus tractus solitarius

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)


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