An electronic nose discriminates exhaled breath of patients with untreated pulmonary sarcoidosis from controls

Respir Med. 2013 Jul;107(7):1073-8. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2013.03.011. Epub 2013 May 3.


Background: Sarcoidosis is a systemic granulomatous disease of unknown cause that affects the lungs in over 90% of cases. Breath analysis by electronic nose technology provides exhaled molecular profiles that have potential in the diagnosis of several respiratory diseases.

Objectives: We hypothesized that exhaled molecular profiling may distinguish well-characterized patients with sarcoidosis from controls. To that end we performed electronic nose measurements in untreated and treated sarcoidosis patients and in healthy controls.

Methods: 31 sarcoidosis patients (11 patients with untreated pulmonary sarcoidosis [age: 48.4 ± 9.0], 20 patients with treated pulmonary sarcoidosis [age: 49.7 ± 7.9]) and 25 healthy controls (age: 39.6 ± 14.1) participated in a cross-sectional study. Exhaled breath was collected twice using a Tedlar bag by a standardized method. Both bags were then sampled by an electronic nose (Cyranose C320), resulting in duplicate data. Statistical analysis on sensor responses was performed off-line by principal components (PC) analyses, discriminant analysis and ROC curves.

Results: Breathprints from patients with untreated pulmonary sarcoidosis were discriminated from healthy controls (CVA: 83.3%; AUC 0.825). Repeated measurements confirmed those results. Patients with untreated and treated sarcoidosis could be less well discriminated (CVA 74.2%), whereas the treated sarcoidosis group was undistinguishable from controls (CVA 66.7%)

Conclusion: Untreated patients with active sarcoidosis can be discriminated from healthy controls. This suggests that exhaled breath analysis has potential for diagnosis and/or monitoring of sarcoidosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Breath Tests / instrumentation
  • Breath Tests / methods
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electronic Nose*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sarcoidosis, Pulmonary / diagnosis*
  • Sarcoidosis, Pulmonary / drug therapy
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers