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1.
Exhaled volatile organic compounds and respiratory disease : recent progress and future outlook
Maria Chiara Magnano, Waqar Ahmed, Ran Wang, Martina Bergant Marušič, Stephen J. Fowler, Iain R. White, 2024, review article

Abstract: The theoretical basis of eVOCs as biomarkers for respiratory disease diagnosis is described, followed by a review of the potential biomarkers that have been proposed as targets from in vitro studies. The utility of these targets is then discussed based on comparison with results from clinical breath studies. The current status of breath research is summarised for various diseases, with emphasis placed on quantitative and targeted studies. Potential for bias highlights several important concepts related to standardization, including practices adopted for compound identification, correction for background inspired VOC levels and computation of mixing ratios. The compiled results underline the need for targeted studies across different analytical platforms to understand how sampling and analytical factors impact eVOC quantification. The impact of environmental VOCs as confounders in breath analysis is discussed alongside the potential that eVOCs have as biomarkers of air pollution exposure and future perspectives on clinical breath sampling are provided.
Keywords: breath analysis, disease diagnosis, exhaled volatile organic compounds, respiratory disease, environmental exposure analysis, breath analysis
Published in RUNG: 06.05.2024; Views: 379; Downloads: 3
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2.
Changes in exhaled volatile organic compounds following indirect bronchial challenge in suspected asthma
Adam Peel, Ran Wang, Waqar Ahmed, Iain R. White, Maxim Wilkinson, Yoon K. Loke, Andrew M. Wilson, Stephen J. Fowler, 2023, original scientific article

Abstract: Background Inhaled mannitol provokes bronchoconstriction via mediators released during osmotic degranulation of inflammatory cells, and, hence represents a useful diagnostic test for asthma and model for acute attacks. We hypothesised that the mannitol challenge would trigger changes in exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs), generating both candidate biomarkers and novel insights into their origin. Methods Participants with a clinical diagnosis of asthma, or undergoing investigation for suspected asthma, were recruited. Inhaled mannitol challenges were performed, followed by a sham challenge after 2 weeks in participants with bronchial hyper-responsiveness (BHR). VOCs were collected before and after challenges and analysed using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Results Forty-six patients (mean (SD) age 52 (16) years) completed a mannitol challenge, of which 16 (35%) were positive, and 15 of these completed a sham challenge. Quantities of 16 of 51 identified VOCs changed following mannitol challenge (p<0.05), of which 11 contributed to a multivariate sparse partial least square discriminative analysis model, with a classification error rate of 13.8%. Five of these 16 VOCs also changed (p<0.05) in quantity following the sham challenge, along with four further VOCs. In patients with BHR to mannitol distinct postchallenge VOC signatures were observed compared with post-sham challenge. Conclusion Inhalation of mannitol was associated with changes in breath VOCs, and in people with BHR resulted in a distinct exhaled breath profile when compared with a sham challenge. These differentially expressed VOCs are likely associated with acute airway inflammation and/or bronchoconstriction and merit further investigation as potential biomarkers in asthma.
Keywords: asthma, exhaled volatile organic compounds, pulmonology, breath metabolomics
Published in RUNG: 31.07.2023; Views: 1139; Downloads: 3
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3.
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: 1234; Downloads: 15
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4.
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: 1464; Downloads: 0
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5.
6.
Nonlinear time series and principal component analyses: Potential diagnostic tools for COVID-19 auscultation
Mohanachandran Nair Sindhu Swapna, RAJ VIMAL, RENJINI A, SREEJYOTHI S, SANKARARMAN S, 2020, original scientific article

Abstract: The development of novel digital auscultation techniques has become highly significant in the context of the outburst of the pandemic COVID 19. The present work reports the spectral, nonlinear time series, fractal, and complexity analysis of vesicular (VB) and bronchial (BB) breath signals. The analysis is carried out with 37 breath sound signals. The spectral analysis brings out the signatures of VB and BB through the power spectral density plot and wavelet scalogram. The dynamics of airflow through the respiratory tract during VB and BB are investigated using the nonlinear time series and complexity analyses in terms of the phase portrait, fractal dimension, Hurst exponent, and sample entropy. The higher degree of chaoticity in BB relative to VB is unwrapped through the maximal Lyapunov exponent. The principal component analysis helps in classifying VB and BB sound signals through the feature extraction from the power spectral density data. The method proposed in the present work is simple, cost-effective, and sensitive, with a far-reaching potential of addressing and diagnosing the current issue of COVID 19 through lung auscultation.
Keywords: Breath sound analysis, Fractal dimension, Nonlinear time series analysis, Sample entropy, Hurst exponent, Principal component analysis
Published in RUNG: 28.06.2022; Views: 1725; Downloads: 0
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7.
Breath and plasma metabolomics to assess inflammation in acute stroke
Waqar Ahmed, Iain R. White, Maxim Wilkinson, Craig Johnson, Nicholas J. W. Rattray, Amit K. Kishore, Royston Goodacre, Craig J. Smith, Stephen J. Fowler, 2021, original scientific article

Abstract: Inflammation is strongly implicated in both injury and repair processes occurring after stroke. In this exploratory study we assessed the feasibility of repeated sampling of exhaled volatile organic compounds and performed an untargeted metabolomic analysis of plasma collected at multiple time periods after stroke. Metabolic profiles were compared with the time course of the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). Serial breath sampling was well-tolerated by all patients and the measurement appears feasible in this group. We found that exhaled decanal tracks CRP and IL-6 levels post-stroke and correlates with several metabolic pathways associated with a post-stroke inflammatory response. This suggests that measurement of breath and blood metabolites could facilitate development of novel therapeutic and diagnostic strategies. Results are discussed in relation to the utility of breath analysis in stroke care, such as in monitoring recovery and complications including stroke associated infection.
Keywords: stroke, metabolomics, breath, VOCs, inflammation
Published in RUNG: 18.11.2021; Views: 1865; Downloads: 62
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8.
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, other scientific articles

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: 4404; Downloads: 0
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9.
The peppermint breath test: a benchmarking protocol for breath sampling and analysis using GC-MS
Maxim Wilkinson, Iain R. White, Katie Hamshere, Olaf Holz, Sven Schuchardt, Francesca G. Bellagambi, Tommaso Lomonaco, Denise Biagini, Laura Di Francesco, Stephen J. Fowler, 2020, original scientific article

Abstract: Exhaled breath contains hundreds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which offers the potential for diagnosing and monitoring a wide range of diseases. As the breath research field has grown, sampling and analytical practices have become highly varied between groups. Standardisation would allow meta-analyses of data from multiple studies and greater confidence in published results. The Peppermint Consortium has been formed to address this task of standardisation. In the current study we aimed to generate initial benchmark values for thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (TD-GC-MS) analysis of breath samples containing peppermint-derived VOCs. Headspace analysis of peppermint oil capsules was performed to determine compounds of interest. Ten healthy participants were recruited by three groups. Each participant provided a baseline breath sample prior to taking a peppermint capsule, with further samples collected at 60, 90, 165, 285 and 360 min following ingestion. Sampling and analytical protocols were different for each institution, in line with their usual practice. Samples were analysed by TD-GC-MS and benchmarking values determined for the time taken for detected peppermint VOCs to return to baseline values. Sixteen compounds were identified in the capsule headspace. Additionally, 2,3-dehydro-1,8-cineole was uniquely found in the breath samples, with a washout profile that suggested it was a product of peppermint metabolism. Five compounds (α-pinene, β-pinene, eucalyptol, menthol and menthone) were quantified by all three groups. Differences in recovery were observed between the groups, particularly for menthone and menthol. The average time taken for VOCs to return to baseline was selected as the benchmark and were 441, 648, 1736, 643 and 375 min for α-pinene, β-pinene, eucalyptol, menthone and menthol respectively. An initial set of easy-to-measure benchmarking values for assessing the performance of TD-GC-MS systems for the analysis of VOCs in breath is presented. These values will be updated when more groups provide additional data.
Keywords: Volatile organic compounds, breath, diagnostics, standardisation
Published in RUNG: 11.12.2020; Views: 3275; Downloads: 0
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10.
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: 2692; Downloads: 0
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