Current monitoring strategies for respiratory diseases are mainly based on clinical features, lung function and imaging. As airway inflammation is the hallmark of many respiratory diseases in childhood, noninvasive methods to assess the presence and severity of airway inflammation might be helpful in both diagnosing and monitoring paediatric respiratory diseases. At present, the measurement of fractional exhaled nitric oxide is the only noninvasive method available to assess eosinophilic airway inflammation in clinical practice. We aimed to evaluate whether the analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in exhaled breath (EB) and biomarkers in exhaled breath condensate (EBC) is helpful in diagnosing and monitoring respiratory diseases in children. An extensive literature search was conducted in Medline, Embase and PubMed on the analysis and applications of VOCs in EB and EBC in children. We retrieved 1165 papers, of which nine contained original data on VOCs in EB and 84 on biomarkers in EBC. These were included in this review. We give an overview of the clinical applications in childhood and summarize the methodological issues. Several VOCs in EB and biomarkers in EBC have the potential to distinguish patients from healthy controls and to monitor treatment responses. Lack of standardization of collection methods and analysis techniques hampers the introduction in clinical practice. The measurement of metabolomic profiles may have important advantages over detecting single markers. There is a lack of longitudinal studies and external validation to reveal whether EB and EBC analysis have added value in the diagnostic process and follow-up of children with respiratory diseases. In conclusion, the use of VOCs in EB and biomarkers in EBC as markers of inflammatory airway diseases in children is still a research tool and not validated for clinical use.

dx.doi.org/10.1111/cea.12454, hdl.handle.net/1765/82872
Clinical and Experimental Allergy
Department of Pediatrics

van Mastrigt, E, de Jongste, J.C, & Pijnenburg, M.W.H. (2015). The analysis of volatile organic compounds in exhaled breath and biomarkers in exhaled breath condensate in children - clinical tools or scientific toys?. Clinical and Experimental Allergy, 45(7), 1170–1188. doi:10.1111/cea.12454