Sensory nerves innervating the airways play an important role in regulating various cardiopulmonary functions, maintaining homeostasis under healthy conditions and contributing to pathophysiology in disease states. Hypo-osmotic solutions elicit sensory reflexes, including cough, and are a potent stimulus for airway narrowing in asthmatic patients, but the mechanisms involved are not known. Transient receptor potential cation channel, subfamily V, member 4 (TRPV4) is widely expressed in the respiratory tract, but its role as a peripheral nociceptor has not been explored.Objective:
We hypothesized that TRPV4 is expressed on airway afferents and is a key osmosensor initiating reflex events in the lung.Methods:
We used guinea pig primary cells, tissue bioassay,in vivoelectrophysiology, and a guinea pig conscious cough model to investigate a role for TRPV4 in mediating sensory nerve activation in vagal afferents and the possible downstream signaling mechanisms. Human vagus nerve was used to confirm key observations in animal tissues.Results:
Here we show TRPV4-induced activation of guinea pig airway–specific primary nodose ganglion cells. TRPV4 ligands and hypo-osmotic solutions caused depolarization of murine, guinea pig, and human vagus and firing of Aδ-fibers (not C-fibers), which was inhibited by TRPV4 and P2X3 receptor antagonists. Both antagonists blocked TRPV4-induced cough.Conclusion:
This study identifies the TRPV4-ATP-P2X3 interaction as a key osmosensing pathway involved in airway sensory nerve reflexes. The absence of TRPV4-ATP–mediated effects on C-fibers indicates a distinct neurobiology for this ion channel and implicates TRPV4 as a novel therapeutic target for neuronal hyperresponsiveness in the airways and symptoms, such as cough.