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Lung. 2004;182(4):241-50.

Sampling airway surface liquid: non-volatiles in the exhaled breath condensate.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS 30216-4505, USA.


Exhaled breath condensate (EBC) samples contain molecules that have no appreciable vapor pressure; such molecules likely derive from droplets of airway fluid. We analyzed EBC gathered from a total of 62 healthy volunteers in order to quantify the volume of airway liquid that was the source of the non-volatiles; saliva was analyzed as a reference secretion. EBC urea averaged 0.52 +/- 0.12 micromol/L (n = 18), an 8,600-fold dilution from predicted blood urea nitrogen levels. Protein averaged 2.3 +/- 0.3 microg/ml (n = 31), three orders of magnitude less than in saliva (1.4 +/- 0.1 mg/ml, n = 15). EBC ammonia was 6.6 +/- 0.6 mmol/L (1/15 that of saliva) and EBC ammonium ion was 0.90 +/- 0.19 micromol/L, concentrations that are incompatible with an 8,600-fold dilution from a biological source. Thus, urea-derived dilution factors may be used to interpret EBC non-volatile molecules, but not EBC volatiles.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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