Novel applications for a noninvasive sampling method of the nasal mucosa

Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2017 Feb 1;312(2):L288-L296. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00476.2016. Epub 2016 Dec 23.


Reliable methods for sampling the nasal mucosa provide clinical researchers with key information regarding respiratory biomarkers of exposure and disease. For quick and noninvasive sampling of the nasal mucosa, nasal lavage (NL) collection has been widely used as a clinical tool; however, limitations including volume variability, sample dilution, and storage prevent NL collection from being used in nonlaboratory settings and analysis of low abundance biomarkers. In this study, we optimize and validate a novel methodology using absorbent Leukosorb paper cut to fit the nasal passage to extract epithelial lining fluid (ELF) from the nasal mucosa. The ELF sampling method limits the dilution of soluble mediators, allowing quantification of both high- and low-abundance soluble biomarkers such as IL-1β, IL-8, IL-6, interferon gamma-induced protein 10 (IP-10), and neutrophil elastase. Additionally, we demonstrate that this method can successfully detect the presence of respiratory pathogens such as influenza virus and markers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the nasal mucosa. Efficacy of ELF collection by this method is not diminished in consecutive-day sampling, and percent recovery of both recombinant IL-8 and soluble mediators are not changed despite freezing or room temperature storage for 24 h. Our results indicate that ELF collection using Leukosorb paper sampling of ELF provides a sensitive, easy-to-use, and reproducible methodology to collect concentrated amounts of soluble biomarkers from the nasal mucosa. Moreover, the methodology described herein improves upon the standard NL collection method and provides researchers with a novel tool to assess changes in nasal mucosal host defense status.

Keywords: biomarkers; epithelial lining fluid; innate immune status; nasal mucosa; storage conditions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Male
  • Nasal Lavage Fluid
  • Nasal Mucosa / physiology*
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Specimen Handling / methods*
  • Young Adult


  • Interleukin-8
  • Recombinant Proteins