Comparison of breath sampling methods: A: post hoc analysis from observational cohort studies

Amalia Z. Berna, Chad L. Schaber, Lucy B. Bollinger, Mwawi Mwale, Rachel Mlotha-Mitole, Indi Trehan, Audrey R. Odom John

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


In this report, we present a post hoc analysis from two observational cohorts, comparing the global breath volatile profile captured when using polymer sampling bags (mixed breath) versus Bio-VOC™ (alveolar breath). The cohorts were originally designed to characterize the breath volatile profiles of Malawian children with and without uncomplicated falciparum malaria. Children aged 3-15 years were recruited from ambulatory pediatric centers in Lilongwe, Malawi. Breath sampling was carried out two months apart (one study using a Bio-VOC™ and the second using sampling bags), and all samples were analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. The efficacy of breath collection was assessed by quantifying levels of two high prevalence breath compounds, acetone and isoprene, as well as determining the overall number of breath compounds collected and their abundance. We found that the mean number of volatiles detected using sampling bags was substantially higher than when using the Bio-VOC™ (137 vs. 47). Breath collection by Bio-VOC™ also yielded reduced levels of endogenous breath volatiles, isoprene and acetone, even after breath volume correction. This suggests that the Bio-VOC™ dilutes the volatiles and introduces dead air or ambient air. Our results suggest that sampling bags are better suited for biomarker discovery and untargeted search of volatiles in pediatric populations, as evidenced by superior breath volatile detection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2026-2033
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 21 2019


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