Is a diluted seawater-based solution safe and effective on human nasal epithelium?

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2021 Aug;278(8):2837-2842. doi: 10.1007/s00405-020-06527-1. Epub 2021 Jan 3.


Purpose: Nasal irrigation is an effective method for alleviating several nasal symptoms and regular seawater-based nasal irrigation is useful for maintaining nasal hygiene which is essential for appropriate functioning of the nose and for preventing airborne particles including some pollutants, pathogens, and allergens from moving further in the respiratory system. However, safety studies on seawater-based nasal irrigation are scarce. In this study, the safety and efficacy of a diluted isotonic seawater solution (Stérimar Nasal Hygiene, SNH) in maintaining nasal homeostasis were evaluated in vitro.

Methods: Safety was assessed by measuring tissue integrity via transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER). Efficacy was measured by mucociliary clearance (MCC), mucin secretion, and tissue re-epithelization (wound repair) assays. All assays were performed using a 3D reconstituted human nasal epithelium model.

Results: In SNH-treated tissues, TEER values were statistically significantly lower than the untreated tissues; however, the values were above the tissue integrity limit. SNH treatment significantly increased MCC (88 vs. 36 µm/s, p < 0.001) and mucin secretion (1717 vs. 1280 µg/ml, p < 0.001) as compared to untreated cultures. Faster wound closure profile was noted upon pre-SNH treatment as compared to classical isotonic saline solution pre-treatment (90.5 vs. 50.7% wound closure 22 h after wound generation).

Conclusion: SNH did not compromise the integrity of the nasal epithelium in vitro. Furthermore, SNH was effective for removal of foreign particles through MCC increase and for enhancing wound repair on nasal mucosa.

Keywords: Diluted seawater; Isotonic seawater; Nasal epithelium; Nasal hygiene; Nasal irrigation; Rhinitis; Sinus health.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Isotonic Solutions
  • Mucociliary Clearance
  • Nasal Lavage*
  • Nasal Mucosa*
  • Seawater


  • Isotonic Solutions