Markers of inflammation in exhaled breath condensate of young healthy smokers

Chest. 2004 Jan;125(1):22-6. doi: 10.1378/chest.125.1.22.


Introduction: Although a strong correlation exists between long-term cigarette smoking, pulmonary inflammation, and COPD, efforts to identify populations at risk of acquiring COPD have so far been unsuccessful. To this end, noninvasive detection and monitoring of biomarkers of pulmonary inflammation in young healthy smokers may assist in this task.

Study objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine the concentrations of total protein, nitrites, interleukin (IL)-1beta, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, and neutrophil chemotactic activity in exhaled breath condensate (EBC) collected from healthy college student smokers and nonsmokers.

Design: EBC was collected from 20 volunteers (9 nonsmokers and 11 smokers) during tidal breathing for 20 min. EBC was also collected from smokers 30 min after smoking one filtered cigarette. The concentrations of total protein, nitrite, IL-1beta, and TNF-alpha in EBC was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Neutrophil chemotactic activity in EBC was determined in vitro using the blind-well technique.

Results: The concentrations of total protein and nitrite, and neutrophil chemotactic activity were significantly higher in EBC of smokers in comparison to nonsmokers (p < 0.05). The concentrations of total protein and nitrite in the condensate of smokers did not change significantly after smoking one cigarette. The concentrations of IL-1beta and TNF-alpha in EBC were similar in nonsmokers and smokers.

Conclusions: Concentrations of certain inflammatory mediators and neutrophil chemotactic activity are increased in EBC of young healthy smokers. Collection and analysis of EBC may assist in early detection of cigarette smoke-induced pulmonary inflammation and identifying populations at risk for acquiring COPD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breath Tests*
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / analysis*
  • Interleukin-1 / analysis
  • Male
  • Neutrophils / physiology
  • Nitrites / analysis
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Smoking / metabolism*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis


  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Interleukin-1
  • Nitrites
  • Proteins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha