Cigarette smoke in lungs evokes reflex increase in tracheal submucosal gland secretion in dogs

H. D. Schultz, B. Davis, H. M. Coleridge, J. C.G. Coleridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Stimulation of pulmonary C-fibers (PCs) by capsaicin and of rapidly adapting receptors (RARs) by reduced lung compliance reflexly increases airway submucosal gland secretion in dogs. Because both PCs and RARs are stimulated by cigarette smoke (nicotine being the primary stimulus), we performed experiments in anesthetized open-chest artificially ventilated dogs (with aortic nerves cut) to determine whether cigarette smoke reflexly stimulates airway secretion. We measured submucosal gland secretion by counting the hillocks in a 1.2-cm2 field of tracheal epithelium coated with tantalum dust. Secretion was stimulated by delivery of 40-320 ml smoke from high-nicotine cigarettes to the lower trachea, secretion rate increasing from 7.4 ± 1.3 to 48.1 ± 5.1 hillocks·cm-2·min-1. Results of cutting the pulmonary vagal branches or carotid sinus nerves or both indicated that the secretory response was initiated by stimulation of lower respiratory vagal afferents and augmented several seconds later by stimulation of carotid chemoreceptors. Results of cooling the cervical vagus nerves to 7 and 0°C indicated that most of the vagally mediated increase in secretion was due to stimulation of afferent lung C-fibers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)900-909
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • airway chemoreflexes
  • bronchial C-fibers
  • bronchomotor reflexes
  • bronchosecretion
  • carotid body chemoreceptors
  • nicotine
  • pulmonary C-fibers
  • pulmonary vagal afferents
  • rapidly adapting receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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