Influence of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease on Volatile Organic Compounds in Patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Arch Bronconeumol. 2020 Dec;56(12):801-805. doi: 10.1016/j.arbr.2020.10.004. Epub 2020 Nov 5.


Introduction: The etiology of lung cancer is multifactorial. Exposure to tobacco smoke and the role played by the carcinogenic compounds that it contains would explain the common association between lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is closely linked to tobacco use. In both diseases, sustained inflammation is caused by increased oxidative stress (for example, lipid peroxidation). This generates low molecular weight substances called volatile organic compounds (VOC) that are excreted during breathing. VOC metabolomics provides an indirect measure of oxidative stress.

Objective: The aim of this study was to establish the relative influence of COPD on the VOC profile in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), by first studying the possible variation of VOC associated with lung cancer histology.

Patients and methods: Exhaled air was tested in 107 NSCLC patients, who were divided into 2 groups: NSCLC with COPD and non-COPD with NSCLC. The exhaled air sample was obtained with the BIOVOC® sampler, and transferred to desorption tubes for later analysis by thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The VOC analysis showed lineal aldehydes and carboxylic acids.

Results and conclusions: No statistically significant differences were found in VOC associated with histology. NSCLC and COPD patients present a 1.7-fold (1.1-2.7) greater probability of detection of propionic acid (95% CI: 1.22-6.2) than patients without COPD or NSCLC (p = 0.013).

Keywords: Biomarcadores; Biomarkers; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Compuestos orgánicos volátiles; Cáncer de pulmón no microcítico; Enfermedad pulmonar obstructiva crónica; Non-small cell lung cancer; Volatile organic compounds.