Comparison between exhaled and sputum oxidative stress biomarkers in chronic airway inflammation

Eur Respir J. 2004 Dec;24(6):1011-7. doi: 10.1183/09031936.04.00002404.


The aim of the present study was to compare aldehyde levels resulting from lipid peroxidation in exhaled breath condensate (EBC) and induced sputum (IS) supernatant of subjects with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Aldehydes (malondialdehyde (MDA), acrolein, n-hexanal (C6), n-heptanal (C7), n-nonanal (C9), 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE) and 4-hydroxyhexenal (HHE)) in both biological fluids were measured by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. MDA concentrations in sputum were 132.5 nM (82.5-268.8) and 23.7 nM (9-53.7) in EBC. Similarly, C6, C7 and C9 concentrations in IS were 1.5-4.7-fold higher than in EBC. Acrolein levels were 131.1 nM (55.6-264.6) in IS and 45.3 nM (14.4-127.1) in EBC. The concentrations of HNE and HHE in IS were not significantly different from the levels in EBC. Aldehyde levels in EBC did not show any correlation with aldehyde levels in IS or with differential sputum cellular count. In COPD, MDA in EBC, but not its IS counterpart, was negatively correlated with the severity of disease. In conclusion, the data presented here show that aldehydes can be detected in both exhaled breath condensate and supernatant of induced sputum, but that their relative concentrations are different and not correlated with each other. Therefore, with regard to lipid peroxidation products, exhaled breath condensate and induced sputum must be considered as independent techniques.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aldehydes / analysis*
  • Asthma / metabolism*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Breath Tests
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Exhalation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / metabolism*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology
  • Sputum / metabolism*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Aldehydes
  • Biomarkers