Background: Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) occurs at high frequency in patients with cystic fibrosis, suggesting that the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) chloride (Cl) ion channel might be involved in the development of chronic sinusitis in the general population. CFTR Cl ion transport controls the hydration of mucosal surfaces and promotes effective mucociliary clearance. Altered ion transport and, hence, disrupted mucociliary function, could play a role in the pathogenesis of sinus disease. L-Ascorbate is a metabolically active component of the nasal and tracheobronchial airway lining fluids and appears to serve as an important biological effector of CFTR-mediated chloride secretion. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of L-ascorbate on Cl ion transport in freshly excised sinonasal epithelia from normal controls and patients with CRS. Methods: Four different types of sinonasal tissue (normal sinus mucosa, sinus mucosa from CRS, normal nasal mucosa, nasal mucosa from CRS) were obtained during endoscopic sinus surgery and mounted on sliders with open areas of 0.03-0.71 cm2 between Ussing hemichambers. Short-circuit current (Isc) was continuously recorded, and a serosa-to-mucosa- directed Cl gradient was applied to increase the electrochemical driving force. Results: L-Ascorbate (500 μM) stimulated Cl currents (DeltaICl, μA/cm2) across sinonasal epithelia from normal and CRS patients. The Cl secretory response to l-ascorbate was effectively blocked by the Cl ion transport inhibitors glibenclamide and bumetanide. A maximal dose of l-ascorbate (at 1 mM) stimulated 53-70% of Cl currents elicited by the cAMP agonist forskolin. CRS sinonasal tissue was characterized by impaired Cl secretory responses to L-ascorbate that were reduced by 33% in sinus epithelial tissue and by 70% in nasal epithelial tissue when compared with normal subjects. In nasal epithelial tissue from normal subjects, Cl secretion was approximately twofold increased when compared with sinus epithelial tissue. In contrast, nasal versus sinus epithelial tissue from CRS patients showed no differences. Conclusion: Topical administration of l-ascorbate to freshly excised sinus and nasal mucosa enhances chloride secretion. Given that decreased CFTR-mediated Cl secretion may contribute to the development of CRS, L-ascorbate may offer potential as a therapeutic agent for the improvement of mucociliary clearance. Copyright © 2009, OceanSide Publications, Inc., U.S.A.