Targeted exhaled breath analysis for detection of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in cystic fibrosis patients

on behalf of the Amsterdam Mucociliary Clearance Disease (AMCD) Research Group and the Amsterdam UMC Breath Research Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) is an important respiratory pathogen for cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Routine microbiology surveillance is time-consuming, and is best performed on expectorated sputum. As alternative, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may be indicative of PA colonisation. In this study, we aimed to identify VOCs associated with PA in literature and perform targeted exhaled breath analysis to recognize PA positive CF patients non-invasively. Methods: This study consisted of 1) a literature review to select VOCs of interest, and 2) a cross-sectional CF study. Definitions used: A) PA positive, PA culture at visit/chronically; B) PA free, no PA culture in ≥12 months. Exhaled VOCs were identified via quadrupole MS. The primary endpoint was the area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (AUROCC) of individual VOCs as well as combined VOCs against PA culture. Results: 241 VOCs were identified in literature, of which 56 were further evaluated, and 13 could be detected in exhaled breath in our cohort. Exhaled breath of 25 pediatric and 28 adult CF patients, PA positive (n=16) and free (n=28) was available. 3/13 VOCs were significantly (p<0.05) different between PA groups in children; none were in adults. Notably, a composite model based on 5 or 1 VOC(s) showed an AUROCC of 0.86 (CI 0.71–1.0) and 0.87 (CI 0.72–1.0) for adults and children, respectively. Conclusions: Targeted VOC analysis appears to discriminate children and adults with and without PA positive cultures with clinically acceptable sensitivity values.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cystic Fibrosis
Early online date2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

Cite this