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Eur Respir J. 2008 Nov;32(5):1175-83. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00072408. Epub 2008 Jul 24.

Metabonomic analysis of exhaled breath condensate in adults by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

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Dept of Respiratory Medicine, Azienda Ospedaliera Monaldi, University of Naples Federico II, 80131 Naples, Italy.


Exhaled breath condensate (EBC) is a noninvasive method for the study of airway lining fluid. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy can provide biochemical profiles of metabolites in biological samples. The aim of the present study was to validate the NMR metabonomic analysis of EBC in adults, assessing the role of pre-analytical variables (saliva and disinfectant contamination) and the potential clinical feasibility. In total, 36 paired EBC and saliva samples, obtained from healthy subjects, laryngectomised patients and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients, were analysed by means of (1)H-NMR spectroscopy followed by principal component analysis. The effect on EBC of disinfectant, used for reusable parts of the condenser, was assessed after different washing procedures. To evaluate intra-day repeatability, eight subjects were asked to collect EBC and saliva twice within the same day. All NMR saliva spectra were significantly different from corresponding EBC samples. EBC taken from condensers washed with recommended procedures invariably showed spectra perturbed by disinfectant. Each EBC sample clustered with corresponding samples of the same group, while presenting intergroup qualitative and quantitative signal differences (94% of the total variance within the data). In conclusion, the nuclear magnetic resonance metabonomic approach could identify the metabolic fingerprint of exhaled breath condensate in different clinical sets of data. Moreover, metabonomics of exhaled breath condensate in adults can discriminate potential perturbations induced by pre-analytical variables.

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