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Chronic Cough as a Genetic Neurological Disorder? Insights from Cerebellar Ataxia with Neuropathy and Vestibular Areflexia Syndrome (CANVAS).

Lung 2023 November 19
Chronic cough is common, and in many cases unexplained or refractory to otherwise effective treatment of associated medical conditions. Cough hypersensitivity has developed as a paradigm that helps to explain clinical and research observations that frequently point towards chronic cough as a neuropathic disorder. Cerebellar ataxia with neuropathy and vestibular areflexia syndrome (CANVAS) is a recently described neurological condition whose clinical features include gait ataxia, unsteadiness, peripheral neuropathy, and autonomic dysfunction. Chronic cough is also a common feature of the syndrome, with features of hypersensitivity, often preceding core neurological symptoms by up to 30 years or more. The genetic basis in a majority of cases of CANVAS appears to be biallelic variable repeat intron expansion sequences within RFC1, a gene normally involved in the regulation of DNA replication and repair. The same polymorphism has now been identified at an increased frequency in patients with unexplained or refractory chronic cough in the absence of defining clinical features of CANVAS. This review expands on these points, aiming to increase the awareness of CANVAS amongst clinicians and researchers working with chronic cough. We discuss the implications of a link between RFC1 disease and cough. Improved understanding of CANVAS may lead to an enhanced grasp of the pathophysiology of chronic cough, and new approaches to antitussive treatments.

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