Rapid non-invasive detection of Influenza-A-infection by multicapillary column coupled ion mobility spectrometry

J Breath Res. 2020 Oct 22;15(1):011001. doi: 10.1088/1752-7163/abb762.


Infectious pathogens are a global issue. Global air travel offers an easy and fast opportunity not only for people but also for infectious diseases to spread around the world within a few days. Also, large public events facilitate increasing infection numbers. Therefore, rapid on-site screening for infected people is urgently needed. Due to the small size and easy handling, ion mobility spectrometry coupled with a multicapillary column (MCC-IMS) is a very promising, sensitive method for the on-site identification of infectious pathogens based on scents, representing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The purpose of this study was to prospectively assess whether identification of Influenza-A-infection based on VOCs by MCC-IMS is possible in breath. Nasal breath was investigated in 24 consecutive persons with and without Influenza-A-infection by MCC-IMS. In 14 Influenza-A-infected patients, infection was proven by PCR of nasopharyngeal swabs. Four healthy staff members and six patients with negative PCR result served as controls. For picking up relevant VOCs in MCC-IMS spectra, software based on cluster analysis followed by multivariate statistical analysis was applied. With only four VOCs canonical discriminant analysis was able to distinguish Influenza-A-infected patients from those not infected with 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity. This present proof-of-concept-study yields encouraging results showing a rapid diagnosis of viral infections in nasal breath within 5 min by MCC-IMS. The next step is to validate the results with a greater number of patients with Influenza-A-infection as well as other viral diseases, especially COVID-19. Registration number at ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04282135.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Breath Tests
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus / isolation & purification*
  • Influenza, Human / complications
  • Influenza, Human / diagnosis*
  • Ion Mobility Spectrometry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Prospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sensitivity and Specificity

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04282135