International forum of allergy & rhinology

Denatonium-induced sinonasal bacterial killing may play a role in chronic rhinosinusitis outcomes.

PMID 28544530


Sinonasal bitter taste receptors (T2Rs) contribute to upper airway innate immunity and correlate with chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) clinical outcomes. A subset of T2Rs expressed on sinonasal solitary chemosensory cells (SCCs) are activated by denatonium, resulting in a calcium-mediated secretion of bactericidal antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in neighboring ciliated epithelial cells. We hypothesized that there is patient variability in the amount of bacterial killing induced by different concentrations of denatonium and that the differences correlate with CRS clinical outcomes. Bacterial growth inhibition was quantified after mixing bacteria with airway surface liquid (ASL) collected from denatonium-stimulated sinonasal air-liquid interface (ALI) cultures. Patient ASL bacterial killing at 0.1 mM denatonium and baseline characteristics and sinus surgery outcomes were compared between these populations. There is variability in the degree of denatonium-induced bacterial killing between patients. In CRS with nasal polyps (CRSwNP), patients with increased bacterial killing after stimulation with low levels of denatonium undergo significantly more functional endoscopic sinus surgeries (FESSs) (p = 0.037) and have worse 6-month post-FESS 22-item Sino-Nasal Outcome Test (SNOT-22) scores (p = 0.012). Bacterial killing after stimulation with low levels of denatonium correlates with number of prior FESS and postoperative SNOT-22 scores in CRSwNP. Some symptoms of CRS in patients with hyperresponsiveness to low levels of denatonium may be due to increased airway immune activity or inherent disease severity.