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Respir Med. 2013 Jul;107(7):1073-8. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2013.03.011. Epub 2013 May 3.

An electronic nose discriminates exhaled breath of patients with untreated pulmonary sarcoidosis from controls.

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Department of Respiratory Medicine, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



Sarcoidosis is a systemic granulomatous disease of unknown cause that affects the lungs in over 90% of cases. Breath analysis by electronic nose technology provides exhaled molecular profiles that have potential in the diagnosis of several respiratory diseases.


We hypothesized that exhaled molecular profiling may distinguish well-characterized patients with sarcoidosis from controls. To that end we performed electronic nose measurements in untreated and treated sarcoidosis patients and in healthy controls.


31 sarcoidosis patients (11 patients with untreated pulmonary sarcoidosis [age: 48.4 ± 9.0], 20 patients with treated pulmonary sarcoidosis [age: 49.7 ± 7.9]) and 25 healthy controls (age: 39.6 ± 14.1) participated in a cross-sectional study. Exhaled breath was collected twice using a Tedlar bag by a standardized method. Both bags were then sampled by an electronic nose (Cyranose C320), resulting in duplicate data. Statistical analysis on sensor responses was performed off-line by principal components (PC) analyses, discriminant analysis and ROC curves.


Breathprints from patients with untreated pulmonary sarcoidosis were discriminated from healthy controls (CVA: 83.3%; AUC 0.825). Repeated measurements confirmed those results. Patients with untreated and treated sarcoidosis could be less well discriminated (CVA 74.2%), whereas the treated sarcoidosis group was undistinguishable from controls (CVA 66.7%)


Untreated patients with active sarcoidosis can be discriminated from healthy controls. This suggests that exhaled breath analysis has potential for diagnosis and/or monitoring of sarcoidosis.

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