Airway monitoring by collection and mass spectrometric analysis of exhaled particles

Anal Chem. 2009 Jan 15;81(2):662-8. doi: 10.1021/ac802055k.


We describe a new method for simultaneously collecting particles in exhaled air for subsequent chemical analysis and measuring their size distribution. After forced exhalation, particles were counted and collected in spots on silicon wafers with a cascade impactor. Several phospholipids were identified by time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometric analysis of the collected spots, suggesting that the particles originated from the lower airways. The amount of particles collected in ten exhalations was sufficient for characterizing the phospholipid composition. The feasibility of the technique in respiratory research is demonstrated by analysis of the phospholipid composition of exhaled particles from healthy controls, patients with asthma, and patients with cystic fibrosis. We believe this technology will be useful for monitoring patients with respiratory disease and has a high potential to detect new biomarkers in exhaled air.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Breath Tests / methods*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / diagnosis
  • Exhalation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic
  • Phospholipids / analysis*
  • Respiratory Function Tests


  • Biomarkers
  • Phospholipids