Volatile metabolites in breath strongly correlate with gut microbiome in CD patients

Anal Chim Acta. 2018 Sep 26:1025:1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.aca.2018.03.046. Epub 2018 Mar 30.


Microbiota composition and its metabolic capacity are very important for host health. Evidence suggests that gut microbiome is involved in the metabolites production by host-microbiome interaction. These metabolites can be absorbed in blood and excreted in exhaled air. Although, profiles of gut microbiota and exhaled metabolites were associated with gastrointestinal diseases, a direct link between them has not yet been investigated. The aim of the study was to investigate the relation between volatiles in breath and gut microbiome in active and quiescent Crohn's disease (CD) via a multivariate statistical approach. Canonical correlation analysis (CCA) was used to assess the relation between exhaled metabolites and faecal bacterial species. From 68 CD patients, 184 repeated faecal and breath samples were collected (92 active and 92 quiescent disease). The microbiota composition was assessed by the pyrosequencing of the 16 S rRNA V1-V3 gene region and breath metabolites by gas chromatography mass spectrometry. In active disease, CCA analysis identified 18 metabolites significantly correlated with 19 faecal bacterial taxa (R = 0.91 p-value 3.5*10-4). In quiescent disease 17 volatile metabolites were correlated with 17 bacterial taxa (R = 0.96 p-value 2.8*10-4). Nine metabolites and three bacteria taxa overlapped in active and inactive CD. This is the first study that shows a significant relation between gut microbiome and exhaled metabolites, and was found to differ between active and quiescent CD, indicating various underlying mechanisms. Unravelling this link is essential to increase our understanding on the functional effects of the microbiome and may provide new leads for microbiome-targeted intervention.

Keywords: Canonical correlation analysis; Crohn's disease; Microbiome; Volatile organic compounds.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breath Tests*
  • Crohn Disease / metabolism
  • Crohn Disease / microbiology*
  • Exhalation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis*
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Volatile Organic Compounds