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Can Mouthwashes Suppress SARS-CoV-2?

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SARS-CoV-2, the COVID causing virus, could spread from the oral and nasal cavities (mouth and nose). Along with infecting the cells of the respiratory tract, the virus also also infects the cells of the lining of the mouth and salivary glands.

A recent study led by Professor Kyoko Hida at Hokkaido University suggests that a component found in mouthwashes could have an antiviral affect on SARS-CoV-2. Low concentrations of the chemical cetylpyridinium chloride, a component of some mouthwashes, has an antiviral affect on SARS-CoV-2.

Mouthwashes contain antibiotic and antiviral ingredients that fight oral bacteria. It has been demonstrated that cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) reduces the viral load of SARS-CoV-2 by disturbing the lipid membrane surrounding the virus. While there are other chemicals with similar effects, CPC has the benefit of being tasteless and odorless.

In this study, researchers were interested in studying the effects of CPC in Japanese mouthwashes. Japanese mouthwashes typically contain a fraction of the CPC compared to previously tested mouthwashes. Researchers tested the effects of CPC on cell cultures that express trans-membrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2), which is required for SARS-CoV-2 entry into the cell.

During this study researchers found that within 10 minutes of treatment CPC decreased SARS-capacity CoV-2’s for cell entrance and infectivity. They also discovered that mouthwashes that contain CPC perform better than CPC alone.

This study relates to AP biology because the chemical found in mouthwash helps breakdown the lipid membrane surrounding the virus just like the cells on your tongue produce lipase which helps break triglycerides down.

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1 Comment

  1. deukaryota

    Hi Papanagopoulos- this is such an interesting discovery, and I loved how you explained everything in a very clear and comprehensible way. I now understand how CPC, found in mouthwashes, destroys the lipid bilayer of SARS-CoV-2 cells. However, I’m curious if the CPC lasts longer than just the thirty seconds of using mouthwash or if it only kills the cells that are in the mouth at that moment. explains that fluoride, an ingredient in some mouthwashes, acts over a longer period of time-about 30 minutes, so I wonder if fluoride mouthwashes would be more effective in killing SARS-CoV-2 cells with CPC or if that is irrelevant.

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