Exhaled breath condensate: an evolving tool for noninvasive evaluation of lung disease

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2002 Jul;110(1):28-34. doi: 10.1067/mai.2002.124966.


Exhaled breath condensate (EBC) contains aerosolized airway lining fluid and volatile compounds that provide noninvasive indications of ongoing biochemical and inflammatory activities in the lung. Rapid increase in interest in EBC has resulted from the recognition that in lung disease this easily sampled fluid has measurable characteristics that differ prominently from health. These assays have provided evidence of airway and lung redox deviation, acid-base status, and degree and type of inflammation in acute and chronic asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, adult respiratory distress syndrome, occupational diseases, and cystic fibrosis. Characterized by uncertain and variable degrees of dilution, EBC does not provide precise assessment of individual solute concentrations within native airway lining fluid. However, it can provide useful information when concentrations differ substantially between health and disease or are based on ratios of solutes found in the sample. Because they can be used to measure the targets of modern therapy, EBC assays are likely to become integral components of future clinical studies, and after further technical work is accomplished, they might be used to diagnose and monitor therapy in individual patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Breath Tests / instrumentation
  • Breath Tests / methods*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / diagnosis*


  • Biomarkers