Influences of mixed expiratory sampling parameters on exhaled volatile organic compound concentrations

J Breath Res. 2011 Mar;5(1):016001. doi: 10.1088/1752-7155/5/1/016001. Epub 2010 Dec 23.


Breath gas analysis is a promising technology for medical applications. By identifying disease-specific biomarkers in the breath of patients, a non-invasive and easy method for early diagnosis or therapy monitoring can be developed. In order to achieve this goal, one essential prerequisite is the reproducibility of the method applied, i.e. the quantification of exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The variability of breath gas VOC measurements can be affected by many factors. In this respect, sampling-specific parameters like flow rate and volume of exhalation, exhalation with or without breath holding, exhalation in single or multiple breathing and volume of air inhaled before breath gas exhalation can play a vital role. These factors affecting the measurements must be controlled by optimizing the sampling procedure. For such an optimization, it is important to know how exactly the different parameters affect the exhaled VOC concentrations. Therefore, a study has been undertaken in order to identify some effects of different breath sampling-specific parameters on the exhaled VOC profile using the mixed expired breath sampling technique. It was found that parameters such as filling the sampling bag with high or low flow rate of exhalation, with multiple or single exhalations, in different volumes of exhalation, with breath holding and under different surrounding air conditions significantly affect the concentrations of the exhaled VOCs. Therefore, the specific results of this work should be taken into account before planning new breath gas studies or developing new breath gas collection systems in order to minimize the number of artefacts affecting the concentration of exhaled VOCs.

MeSH terms

  • Breath Tests / instrumentation*
  • Breath Tests / methods
  • Equipment Design
  • Exhalation*
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis*


  • Volatile Organic Compounds