Sensor arrays based on nanoparticles for early detection of kidney injury by breath samples

Nanomedicine. 2014 Nov;10(8):1767-76. doi: 10.1016/j.nano.2014.06.007. Epub 2014 Jun 19.


The outcomes of acute kidney injury (AKI) could be severe and even lethal, if not diagnosed in its early stages and treated appropriately. Blood and urine biomarkers, currently in use as indicators for kidney function, are either inaccurate in various cases or not timely. We report on dramatic changes in exhaled breath composition, associated with kidney dysfunction after ischemic insult in rat models. Gas chromatography linked mass spectrometry examination of breath samples indicated significant elevations in the concentration of three exhaled volatile organic compounds, two to six hours after AKI was surgically induced. Relying on these findings, we introduce an array of sensors, based on organic-layer capped gold nanoparticles, sensitive to odor changes. The ability of the array to detect AKI via breath testing was examined and scored a sensitivity of 96%, only one hour after disease induction.

From the clinical editor: In this study, organic-layer capped gold nanoparticle-based biosensors are used to analyse breath samples in an acute kidney injury model, capitalizing on the observation that specific volatile organic compounds are present in breath samples in that condition. The authors report excellent sensitivity in as little as one hour after acute kidney injury. This method, if commercialized, may replace the current blood and urine sample analysis-based tests with a more convenient, rapid and accurate nanotechnology-based method.

Keywords: Acute kidney injury; Breath test; Detection; Gold nanoparticles; Volatile organic compound.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biosensing Techniques / methods*
  • Breath Tests / methods*
  • Gold / chemistry*
  • Kidney / injuries*
  • Kidney Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Metal Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / chemistry


  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • Gold