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J Breath Res. 2012 Mar;6(1):016003. doi: 10.1088/1752-7155/6/1/016003. Epub 2012 Jan 10.

Detection of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) in patients with obstructive lung disease using exhaled breath profiling.

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  • 1Centre for Infection and Inflammation Research, and Prince of Wales Clinical School, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.


Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) has been implicated in the worsening of several respiratory disorders. Current methods of diagnosis lack accuracy, are invasive and can be costly. Recently, novel methods of analysing lung pathophysiology have been developed including the use of an electronic nose and analysis of components of exhaled breath condensate (EBC). We hypothesised that these methods would distinguish patients with GORD from those without GORD in the common obstructive lung diseases and healthy controls. In a cross-sectional study, exhaled breath was analysed using the Cyranose 320 electronic nose, using principal components and canonical discriminant analyses. EBC pH and pepsin were quantified using a pH meter and an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, respectively. A standardized reflux disease questionnaire (RDQ) was used to assess reflux symptoms. The Cyranose 320 distinguished exhaled breath profiles of obstructive lung disease patients without GORD from obstructive lung disease patients with GORD (p = 0.023, accuracy 67.6%), asthmatic patients with reflux from asthmatics without GORD (85%, p = < 0.015, interclass M distance > 2.8), but did not produce as robust a profile for patients with COPD and COPD with GORD (p = 0.047, accuracy 64%). Patients with obstructive lung disease and GORD had significantly higher levels of EBC pepsin (9.81 ± interquartile range (IQR) 4.38 ng ml(-1)) than those without GORD (4.6 ± IQR 6.95 ng ml(-1)), as well as healthy controls (3.44 ± IQR 7.87 ng ml(-1); p = < 0.013). EBC pH was not significantly related to the presence of GORD in any group. The RDQ results correlated significantly with the presence of EBC pepsin. This pilot study has shown that exhaled breath profiling can be used for detecting GORD in obstructive lung diseases. While the electronic nose was useful in asthma, EBC pepsin was more helpful in COPD. In this study, several different confounders could potentially have affected results and larger prospective interventional studies are needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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