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1.
Analysis of exhaled breath to identify critically ill patients with ventilator-associated pneumonia
T. W. Felton, Waqar Ahmed, Iain R. White, Pouline M. van Oort, Nicholas J. W. Rattray, C. Docherty, Jonathan Bannard-Smith, J.B. Morton, Ingeborg Welters, R. McMullan, 2023, original scientific article

Abstract: Ventilator-associated pneumonia commonly occurs in critically ill patients. Clinical suspicion results in overuse of antibiotics, which in turn promotes antimicrobial resistance. Detection of volatile organic compounds in the exhaled breath of critically ill patients might allow earlier detection of pneumonia and avoid unnecessary antibiotic prescription. We report a proof of concept study for non-invasive diagnosis of ventilator-associated pneumonia in intensive care (the BRAVo study). Mechanically ventilated critically ill patients commenced on antibiotics for clinical suspicion of ventilator-associated pneumonia were recruited within the first 24 h of treatment. Paired exhaled breath and respiratory tract samples were collected. Exhaled breath was captured on sorbent tubes and then analysed using thermal desorption gas chromatography–mass spectrometry to detect volatile organic compounds. Microbiological culture of a pathogenic bacteria in respiratory tract samples provided confirmation of ventilator-associated pneumonia. Univariable and multivariable analyses of volatile organic compounds were performed to identify potential biomarkers for a ‘rule-out’ test. Ninety-six participants were enrolled in the trial, with exhaled breath available from 92. Of all compounds tested, the four highest performing candidate biomarkers were benzene, cyclohexanone, pentanol and undecanal with area under the receiver operating characteristic curve ranging from 0.67 to 0.77 and negative predictive values from 85% to 88%. Identified volatile organic compounds in the exhaled breath of mechanically ventilated critically ill patients show promise as a useful non-invasive ‘rule-out’ test for ventilator-associated pneumonia.
Keywords: breath, diagnosis, ventilator-associated pneumonia
Published in RUNG: 05.04.2023; Views: 1017; Downloads: 13
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2.
Microbial volatiles as diagnostic biomarkers of bacterial lung infection in mechanically ventilated patients
Waqar M Ahmed, Dominic Fenn, Iain R. White, Breanna Dixon, Tamara M E Nijsen, Hugo H Knobel, Paul Brinkman, Pouline M P van Oort, Marcus J Schultz, Paul Dark, Royston Goodacre, Timothy Felton, Lieuwe D J Bos, Stephen J Fowler, 2022, original scientific article

Abstract: Background Early and accurate recognition of respiratory pathogens is crucial to prevent increased risk of mortality in critically ill patients. Microbial-derived volatile organic compounds (mVOCs) in exhaled breath could be used as non-invasive biomarkers of infection to support clinical diagnosis. Methods In this study, we investigated the diagnostic potential of in vitro confirmed mVOCs in the exhaled breath of patients under mechanically ventilation from the BreathDx study. Samples were analysed by thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (TD-GC-MS). Results Pathogens from bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) cultures were identified in 45/89 patients and S. aureus was the most commonly identified pathogen (n = 15). Out of 19 mVOCs detected in the in vitro culture headspace of four common respiratory pathogens (Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Escherichia coli), 14 were found in exhaled breath samples. Higher concentrations of two mVOCs were found in the exhaled breath of patients infected with S. aureus compared to those without (3-methylbutanal p < 0.01. AUROC = 0.81-0.87 and 3-methylbutanoic acid p = 0.01. AUROC = 0.79-0.80). In addition, bacteria identified from BAL cultures which are known to metabolise tryptophan (Escherichia coli, Klebsiella oxytoca and Haemophilus influenzae) were grouped and found to produce higher concentrations of indole compared to breath samples with culture-negative (p = 0.034) and other pathogen-positive (p = 0.049) samples. Conclusions This study demonstrates the capability of using mVOCs to detect the presence of specific pathogen groups with potential to support clinical diagnosis. Although not all mVOCs were found in patient samples within this small pilot study, further targeted and qualitative investigation is warranted using multi-centre clinical studies.
Keywords: Breath, VOCs, infection, respiratory pathogens, VAP
Published in RUNG: 28.11.2022; Views: 1243; Downloads: 0
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3.
Composition and diversity analysis of the lung microbiome in patients with suspected ventilator-associated pneumonia
Dominic Fenn, Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz, Pouline van Oort, Paul Brinkman, Waqar Ahmed, Timothy Felton, Antonio Artigas, Pedro Póvoa, Ignacio Martin-Loeches, Marcus Schultz, Paul Dark, Stephen Fowler, Iain R. White, 2022, original scientific article

Abstract: Background: Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is associated with high morbidity and health care costs, yet diagnosis remains a challenge. Analysis of airway microbiota by amplicon sequencing provides a possible solution, as pneumonia is characterised by a disruption of the microbiome. However, studies evaluating the diagnostic capabilities of microbiome analysis are limited, with a lack of alignment on possible biomarkers. Using bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) from ventilated adult patients suspected of VAP, we aimed to explore how key characteristics of the microbiome differ between patients with positive and negative BALF cultures and whether any differences could have a clinically relevant role. Methods: BALF from patients suspected of VAP was analysed using 16s rRNA sequencing in order to: (1) differentiate between patients with and without a positive culture; (2) determine if there was any association between microbiome diversity and local inflammatory response; and (3) correctly identify pathogens detected by conventional culture. Results: Thirty-seven of 90 ICU patients with suspected VAP had positive cultures. Patients with a positive culture had significant microbiome dysbiosis with reduced alpha diversity. However, gross compositional variance was not strongly associated with culture positivity (AUROCC range 0.66–0.71). Patients with a positive culture had a significantly higher relative abundance of pathogenic bacteria compared to those without [0.45 (IQR 0.10–0.84), 0.02 (IQR 0.004–0.09), respectively], and an increased interleukin (IL)-1β was associated with reduced species evenness (rs = − 0.33, p < 0.01) and increased pathogenic bacteria presence (rs = 0.28, p = 0.013). Untargeted 16s rRNA pathogen detection was limited by false positives, while the use of pathogen-specific relative abundance thresholds showed better diagnostic accuracy (AUROCC range 0.89–0.998). Conclusion: Patients with positive BALF culture had increased dysbiosis and genus dominance. An increased caspase-1-dependent IL-1b expression was associated with a reduced species evenness and increased pathogenic bacterial presence, providing a possible causal link between microbiome dysbiosis and lung injury development in VAP. However, measures of diversity were an unreliable predictor of culture positivity and 16s sequencing used agnostically could not usefully identify pathogens; this could be overcome if pathogen-specific relative abundance thresholds are used.
Keywords: Microbiome, Next-generation sequencing, Ventilator-associated pneumonia
Published in RUNG: 26.10.2022; Views: 1027; Downloads: 0
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4.
Untargeted molecular analysis of exhaled breath as a diagnostic test for ventilator-associated lower respiratory tract infections (BreathDx)
Pouline M. van Oort, Tamara M. E. Nijsen, Iain R. White, Hugo Knobel, Timothy Felton, Nicholas J. W. Rattray, Oluwasola Lawal, Murtaza Bulut, Waqar Ahmed, Antonio Artigas, 2021, short scientific article

Abstract: Patients suspected of ventilator-associated lower respiratory tract infections (VA-LRTIs) commonly receive broad-spectrum antimicrobial therapy unnecessarily. We tested whether exhaled breath analysis can discriminate between patients suspected of VA-LRTI with confirmed infection, from patients with negative cultures. Breath from 108 patients suspected of VA-LRTI was analysed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The breath test had a sensitivity of 98% at a specificity of 49%, confirmed with a second analytical method. The breath test had a negative predictive value of 96% and excluded pneumonia in half of the patients with negative cultures. Trial registration number: UKCRN ID number 19086, registered May 2015.
Keywords: ventilator-associated pneumonia, breath analysis, volatile organic compounds, metabolomics, intensive care, hospital acquired infections
Published in RUNG: 07.09.2021; Views: 4144; Downloads: 0
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5.
Detection and quantification of exhaled volatile organic compounds in mechanically ventilated patients–comparison of two sampling methods
Iain R. White, Pouline M. van Oort, Waqar Ahmed, Craig Johnson, Jonathan Bannard-Smith, Timothy Felton, Lieuwe D. Bos, Royston Goodacre, Paul Dark, Stephen J. Fowler, 2020, original scientific article

Abstract: Exhaled breath analysis is a promising new diagnostic tool, but currently no standardised method for sampling is available in mechanically ventilated patients. We compared two breath sampling methods, first using an artificial ventilator circuit, then in “real life” in mechanically ventilated patients on the intensive care unit. In the laboratory circuit, a 24-component synthetic-breath volatile organic compound (VOC) mixture was injected into the system as air was sampled: (A) through a port on the exhalation limb of the circuit and (B) through a closed endo-bronchial suction catheter. Sorbent tubes were used to collect samples for analysis by thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Realistic mechanical ventilation rates and breath pressure–volume loops were established and method detection limits (MDLs) were calculated for all VOCs. Higher yields of VOCs were retrieved using the closed suction catheter; however, for several VOCs MDLs were compromised due to the background signal associated with plastic and rubber components in the catheters. Different brands of suction catheter were compared. Exhaled VOC data from 40 patient samples collected at two sites were then used to calculate the proportion of data analysed above the MDL. The relative performance of the two methods differed depending on the VOC under study and both methods showed sensitivity towards different exhaled VOCs. Furthermore, method performance differed depending on recruitment site, as the centres were equipped with different brands of respiratory equipment, an important consideration for the design of multicentre studies investigating exhaled VOCs in mechanically ventilated patients.
Keywords: Volatile organic compounds, infection, breath, ventilator associated pneumonia
Published in RUNG: 10.12.2020; Views: 2458; Downloads: 0
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6.
Exhaled breath metabolomics reveals a pathogen-specific response in a rat pneumonia model for two human pathogenic bacteria: a proof-of-concept study
Pouline M van Oort, Iain R. White, 2019, original scientific article

Abstract: Volatile organic compounds in breath can reflect host and pathogen metabolism and might be used to diagnose pneumonia. We hypothesized that rats with Streptococcus pneumoniae (SP) or Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) pneumonia can be discriminated from uninfected controls by thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass-spectrometry (TD-GC-MS) and selected ion flow tube-mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) of exhaled breath. Male adult rats (n = 50) received an intratracheal inoculation of 1) 200 µl saline, or 2) 1 × 107 colony-forming units of SP or 3) 1 × 107 CFU of PA. Twenty-four hours later the rats were anaesthetized, tracheotomized, and mechanically ventilated. Exhaled breath was analyzed via TD-GC-MS and SIFT-MS. Area under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUROCCs) and correct classification rate (CCRs) were calculated after leave-one-out cross-validation of sparse partial least squares-discriminant analysis. Analysis of GC-MS data showed an AUROCC (95% confidence interval) of 0.85 (0.73-0.96) and CCR of 94.6% for infected versus noninfected animals, AUROCC of 0.98 (0.94-1) and CCR of 99.9% for SP versus PA, 0.92 (0.83-1.00), CCR of 98.1% for SP versus controls and 0.97 (0.92-1.00), and CCR of 99.9% for PA versus controls. For these comparisons the SIFT-MS data showed AUROCCs of 0.54, 0.89, 0.63, and 0.79, respectively. Exhaled breath analysis discriminated between respiratory infection and no infection but with even better accuracy between specific pathogens. Future clinical studies should not only focus on the presence of respiratory infection but also on the discrimination between specific pathogens.
Keywords: biomarkers, exhaled breath analysis, infection, pneumonia
Published in RUNG: 22.07.2019; Views: 3063; Downloads: 0
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7.
TD/GC–MS analysis of volatile markers emitted from mono- and co-cultures of Enterobacter cloacae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in artificial sputum
Iain R. White, Oluwasola Lawal, Hugo Knobel, Weda Hans, Tamara M E Nijsen, Royston Goodacre, Stephen J Fowler, Waqar M Ahmed, Antonio Artigas, Jonathan Barnard-Smith, Lieuwe D Bos, Marta Camprubi, Luis Coelho, Paul Dark, Alan Davie, Emili Diaz, Gemma Goma, Timothy Felton, Jan H Leopold, Pouline M P van Oort, Pedro Póvoa, Craig Portsmouth, 2018, original scientific article

Abstract: Introduction: Infections such as ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) can be caused by one or more pathogens. Current methods for identifying these pathogenic microbes often require invasive sampling, and can be time consuming, due to the requirement for prolonged cultural enrichment along with selective and differential plating steps. This results in delays in diagnosis which in such critically ill patients can have potentially life-threatening consequences. Therefore, a non-invasive and timely diagnostic method is required. Detection of microbial volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in exhaled breath is proposed as an alternative method for identifying these pathogens and may distinguish between mono- and poly-microbial infections. Objectives: To investigate volatile metabolites that discriminate between bacterial mono- and co-cultures. Methods: VAP-associated pathogens Enterobacter cloacae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa were cultured individually and together in artificial sputum medium for 24 h and their headspace was analysed for potential discriminatory VOCs by thermal desorption gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Results: Of the 70 VOCs putatively identified, 23 were found to significantly increase during bacterial culture (i.e. likely to be released during metabolism) and 13 decreased (i.e. likely consumed during metabolism). The other VOCs showed no transformation (similar concentrations observed as in the medium). Bacteria-specific VOCs including 2-methyl-1-propanol, 2-phenylethanol, and 3-methyl-1-butanol were observed in the headspace of axenic cultures of E. cloacae, and methyl 2-ethylhexanoate in the headspace of P. aeruginosa cultures which is novel to this investigation. Previously reported VOCs 1-undecene and pyrrole were also detected. The metabolites 2-methylbutyl acetate and methyl 2-methylbutyrate, which are reported to exhibit antimicrobial activity, were elevated in co-culture only. Conclusion: The observed VOCs were able to differentiate axenic and co-cultures. Validation of these markers in exhaled breath specimens could prove useful for timely pathogen identification and infection type diagnosis.
Keywords: Bacteria, Enterobacter cloacae, Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry, Infection, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Volatile organic compounds
Published in RUNG: 18.07.2019; Views: 4461; Downloads: 114
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