1. The present study was performed in anaesthetized, artificially ventilated, open-chested rabbits to examine whether (a) the rapidly adapting receptors of the airways were stimulated by exogenously administered bradykinin, and (b) if this sensitivity could be enhanced by the angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitor, enalapril.
2. Rapidly adapting receptor activity (n = 8) was recorded from the cervical vagus. Bradykinin was injected intravenously (0.25–1.0 μg/kg) and a dose—response curve relating receptor activity to bradykinin was elicited. In the control state, the threshold dose of bradykinin required for stimulation of rapidly adapting receptors was 0.53 ± 0.11 μg/kg. Five minutes after the administration of enalapril maleate (2 mg intravenously), the dose—response curve was shifted to the left significantly (P<0.01).
3. In seven other rapidly adapting receptors, enalapril (2 mg) increased the resting activity significantly (P<0.05) over a period of 60 min. This increase was significantly different from the spontaneous variation in neural activity of rapidly adapting receptors (n = 7) recorded over a period of 60 min.
4. Bradykinin either alone (0.25–1.0 μg/kg) or in the presence of enalapril did not stimulate the slowly adapting receptors (n = 5) of the airways.
5. These results show that (a) exogenous bradykinin stimulates the rapidly adapting receptors, (b) the sensitivity of rapidly adapting receptors to bradykinin is enhanced by enalapril and (c) enalapril increases the resting activity of rapidly adapting receptors. It is suggested that the cough reported after the administration of enalapril may be due to stimulation of rapidly adapting receptors of the airways.