Breath analysis

August 2, 2012

The Column

The Column, The Column-08-02-2012, Volume 8, Issue 14
Page Number: 8

The current method for diagnosis of ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP) can be both invasive and time-consuming. A group of researchers has conducted an initial study into pathogen-derived volatile biomarkers in breath for early and non-invasive diagnosis of VAP.

The current method for diagnosis of ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP) can be both invasive and time-consuming. A group of researchers has conducted an initial study into pathogen-derived volatile biomarkers in breath for early and non-invasive diagnosis of VAP.1

The team conducted in vitro experiments with the bacteria that is most frequently found in VAP patients, Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and they investigated the release or consumption of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) was used to analyse headspace samples from the bacteria. In total, 32 and 37 volatile metabolites were released by S. aureus and P. aeruginosa, respectively. Distinct differences in the bacteria-specific VOC profiles were found, especially with regard to aldehydes, which were taken up only by P. aeruginosa but released by S. aureus.

The team concluded that the results that they had obtained could detect and perhaps identify the bacteria. This could potentially be used to support the clinical use of breath-gas analysis as a non‑invasive method for early detection of bacterial lung infections.

1. Anton Amann et al., BMC Microbiology12, 113, (2012).

This story originally appeared in The Column. Click here to view that issue.