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Does a Common Mouthwash Ingredient Inhibit SARS-CoV-2?

New research in Scientific Reports finds cetylpyridinium chloride can reduce the transmission rate and progression of infection.

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By: Tom Branna

Does a Common Mouthwash Ingredient Inhibit SARS-CoV-2?

Is there an effective treatment to reduce the spread of covid in your medicine cabinet? A study published in Scientific Reports demonstrated the antiviral effectiveness of cetylpyridinium chloride against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) is an ammonium compound commonly present in mouthwash. CPC is a well-known, broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent used in over-the-counter rinses to promote gingival health. It acts by penetrating the cell membrane, causing cell components to leak, which eventually leads to cell death. Crest Pro-Health mouthwash from Procter & Gamble contains CPC.

According to researchers, evidence suggests the virus can replicate in the oral cavity and release into saliva. The literature also established an association between salivary content of SARS-CoV-2 and covid-19 aggravation. 

Considering the significance of oral hygiene in the context of SARS-CoV-2 infection, scientists in the current study investigated the antiviral effect as well as the mode of action of cetylpyridinium chloride against SARS-CoV-2 infection.

A few studies have indicated that cetylpyridinium chloride is effective against wild-type SARS-CoV-2 at low concentrations (10–50 µg/ml).  

The Scientific Reports study examined the antiviral effect of cetylpyridinium chloride on a range of SARS-CoV-2 strains, including wild-type SARS-CoV-2 and alpha, beta and gamma variants. The plaque assay was conducted to examine viral infectivity in the presence and absence of the compound.

The findings revealed that CPC at low concentrations (5-40 µg/ml) significantly suppresses the infectivity of all tested SARS-CoV-2 strains in a dose-dependent manner. The tested concentrations were lower than that used in commercially available mouthwash (50 µg/ml).

The study concluded that cetylpyridinium chloride-containing products can be used as a preventive measure to reduce the transmission rate and progression of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

An ongoing clinical study is examining the effect of cetylpyridinium chloride on SARS-CoV-2 viral load in the saliva of covid-19 patients.   

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