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Photo of Dr. Brendan J. Canning, PhD

Brendan J. Canning, PhD

Associate Professor
Associate Professor of Medicine


  • Associate Professor
  • Associate Professor of Medicine

Research Interests

Innervation of the airways; Airway reflexes


Dr. Brendan Canning is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Allergy and Clinical Immunology Department. He studies the innervation of the airways and airway reflexes. 

Dr. Canning holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a PhD from the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Asthma and Allergy Center before joining the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1996. He is a member of the American Physiological Society, the American Thoracic Society, the International Society for Autonomic Neuroscience, the Maryland Thoracic Society and the Pulmonary Research Group. 



  • English
Additional Resources +
  • Education +


    • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, 1993
    • B.S., University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 1986
  • Research & Publications +

    Research Summary

    Our current research is focused on mechanistic studies of the cough reflex.  We recently identified the afferent nerves that play an essential role in regulating cough (J Physiol., vol. 557.2, pp 543-558, 2004). These "cough receptors" are exquisitely sensitive to acid and to punctuate mechanical stimuli and are readily distinguished from other afferent nerves innervating the airways based on action potential conduction velocity, distribution, and their insensitivity to capsaicin, bradykinin, airway smooth muscle contraction, stretch and alterations in luminal pressures within the airways. Importantly, we have been able to intravitally label the peripheral nerve terminals of these afferent nerves using the styryl dye FM2-10.    This has permitted an unprecedented structure-function analysis of their excitability. We have also been characterizing the CNS pathways regulating the cough reflex and interactions amongst various afferent nerve subtypes in regulating cough. We have identified key sites of integration of airway afferent nerve input and mechanisms by which afferent nerve subtypes act synergistically to regulate cough. These interactions may underlie the excessive coughing associated with upper and lower airways disease, and potentially, the coughing associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease. Our experimental approaches include electrophysiological recordings, CNS microinjection techniques, in vivo preparations for monitoring cough and reflex bronchospasm, neuronal tracing and immunohistochemistry.

    Selected Publications

    Kesler, BS and BJ Canning (1999). Regulation of baseline cholinergic tone in guinea-pig airway smooth muscle. J Physiol (Lond.), 518: 843-856.
    View on Pubmed

    Canning, BJ, SM Reynolds and SB Mazzone (2001). Multiple mechanisms of reflex bronchospasm in guinea pigs. J Appl Physiol, 91(6): 2642-2653.
    View on Pubmed

    Mazzone, SB and BJ Canning (2002). Evidence for differential reflex regulation of cholinergic and noncholinergic parasympathetic nerves innervating the airways. Am J Respir Crit Care Med, (8), 1076-1083.
    View on Pubmed

    Mazzone, SB and BJ Canning (2002). Synergistic interactions between airway afferent nerve subtypes mediating reflex bronchospasm in guinea pigs. Am J Physiol (Regul Integr Comp Physiol), 283, R86-R98.
    View on Pubmed

    Canning, BJ, SM Reynolds, LU Anukwu, R Kajekar and AC Myers (2002). Endogenous neurokinins facilitate synaptic neurotransmisssion in guinea pig airway parasympathetic ganglia. Am J Physiol (Regul Integr Comp Physiol), 283, R320-R330.
    View on Pubmed

    Canning, BJ, SB Mazzone, SN Meeker, SM Reynolds and BJ Undem (2004). Identification of the tracheal and laryngeal afferent neurones mediating cough in anaesthetised guinea-pigs. J. Physiol., 557 (2), 543-558.
    View on Pubmed
  • Academic Affiliations & Courses +
  • Activities & Honors +

    Professional Activities

    Institutional Administrative Appointments:
    Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (2000 - present)
    Equipment Committee Chair, Division of Clinical Immunology, (2000 - present)

    Professional Societies:
    Regular Member, American Physiological Society
    Regular Member, American Thoracic Society
    Regular Member, International Society for Autonomic Neuroscience
    Regular Member, Maryland Thoracic Society
    President, Pulmonary Research Group (2001-2003)
    Board member, Pulmonary Research Group - (2003 - present)
    Expert panel on cough, American College of Chest Physicians (2004)
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    • Medicine - Allergy and Clinical Immunology

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