Background: Often thought of as a minor health concern, sore throat or pharyngitis is an important public health issue. It is one of the most common symptoms of upper respiratory diseases including COVID-19 and is a leading cause of physician visits and antibiotic prescriptions. However, few over-the-counter medications are proven to heal sore throat inflammation. Methods: Adenocarcinomic human alveolar basal epithelial cells (A549 cells) and three dimensional organotypic human respiratory tissues were used to study inflammation and various treatment effects on respiratory epithelia. The cells and tissues were studied both in the presence and absence of bradykinin, one of the first inflammatory mediators of pharyngitis. Inflammation was measured by analyzing the levels of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), interleukin 8 (IL-8), and leukotriene B4 (LTB4), transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release. Tissue morphology was analyzed by immunohistochemistry. Results: In studying pharyngitis using organotypic human respiratory tissue stimulated with bradykinin, we saw an increase in PGE2 and interleukin-8 (IL-8) in response to bradykinin. Acetyl salicylic acid (ASA), a nonspecific COX inhibitor, was able to mitigate a bradykinin-induced increase in PGE2 in our studies. However, ASA was inflammatory above its therapeutic window, increasing the levels of PGE2 and IL-8 above those seen with bradykinin stimulation alone. We describe a novel, scientifically validated treatment for sore throat, that contains a low dose of ASA and other anti-inflammatory ingredients. Conclusion: This study elucidates the complex mechanisms involved in healing pharyngitis, an inflammatory condition of the upper respiratory epithelia. An ASA-based formula (Biovanta) mitigated bradykinin-induced inflammation more strongly than ASA alone in organotypic human respiratory tissues. Surprisingly, we found that many of the most common over the counter sore throat therapies exacerbate inflammation and IL-8 in organotypic human respiratory tissues, suggesting these common treatments may increase the likelihood of further respiratory complications.
- acetyl salicylic acid