RESEARCH ARTICLE


Effect of Short-Term Exposure to High Particulate Levels on Cough Reflex Sensitivity in Healthy Tourists: A Pilot Study



Ryuhei Sato1, 2, 3, Peijun Gui1, Kumiko Ito1, Masahiro Kohzuki1, Satoru Ebihara1, 2, *
1 Department of Internal Medicine and Rehabilitation Science, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Seiryo-machi 1-1, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8574, Japan
2 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Toho University Graduate School of Medicine, Omori-nishi 6-11-1, Ota-ku, Tokyo 143-8541, Japan
3 Department of Critical Care Nursing, School of Human Health Science, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Shogoin Kawahara-cho 53, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8507, Japan


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© Sato et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/legalcode), which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Toho University Graduate School of Medicine, Omori-nishi 6-11-1, Ota-ku, Tokyo 143-8541, Japan; Tel: +81-3-3762-4151; Fax: +81-3-3768-6125; E-mail: satoru.ebihara@med.toho-u.ac.jp


Abstract

Background:

Previous studies have reported a relationship between particulate air pollution and respiratory symptoms or decline in lung function, but information about acute effects of short-term exposure to airborne particulate matter (PM) on cough and pulmonary function is scarce.

Objective:

To investigate the effect of short-term exposure to high concentrations of PM on the cough reflex threshold, urge-to-cough, pulmonary function, and cough-related quality of life in a group of healthy non-resident volunteers visiting Beijing, China.

Methods:

Seventeen healthy residents of Sendai, Japan, who planned to attend a meeting in Beijing, were recruited. We checked local air quality and measured cough reflex thresholds, urge-to-cough, pulmonary function, and Leicester Cough Questionnaire-acute (LCQ-acute) scores in the volunteers before, during, and after their trip to Beijing.

Results:

The PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations in Beijing were significantly higher than those in Japan on the measurement days. Cough reflex thresholds, expressed as nebulized citric acid concentrations required to induce ≥ 2 and ≥ 5 coughs, were significantly lower during the stay in Beijing than before or after the visit. Vital capacity, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), forced vital capacity (FVC), and FEV1/FVC were significantly lower during the stay in Beijing than before the trip. Similarly, the urge-to-cough threshold was significantly lower during the stay in Beijing than after the trip, as was the total LCQ-acute score.

Conclusion:

We tentatively concluded that short-term exposure to high PM concentrations may have adverse effects on cough reflex and urge-to-cough thresholds, pulmonary function, and cough-related quality of life.

Keywords: Cough reflex, Particulate matter, Leicester cough questionnaire-acute, Pulmonary function, Short-term exposure, Urge-to-cough.