Exhaled breath condensate: a new method for lung disease diagnosis

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Analysis of exhaled breath composition in lung disease patients can indirectly point to biochemical changes that occur in the fluid lining airway surfaces. The parameters of redox and acid-base changes, and of inflammatory changes relevant in the pathogenesis of most pulmonary diseases are currently most widely determined in exhaled breath condensate. The collection of exhaled breath condensate is a safe, non-invasive, easy and simple diagnostic procedure that is suitable for longitudinal studies and applicable in patients of all age groups, irrespective of the disease severity. In spite of many scientific studies involving lung disease patients, methodology for exhaled breath condensate collection and analysis has not yet been realized for daily utilization. Additional studies of the exact origin of condensate constituents and standardization of the overall analytical process, including collection, storage, analysis and result interpretation, are needed. Irrespective of these limitations, further investigation of this sample type is fully justified by the fact that classical specimens used in the management of pulmonary disease are either obtained by invasive procedures (e.g., induced sputum, biopsy, bronchoalveolar lavage) or cannot provide appropriate information (e.g., urine, serum). Analysis of exhaled breath condensate in the future might contribute significantly to our understanding of the physiological and pathophysiological processes in lungs, to early detection, diagnosis and follow up of disease progression, and to evaluation of therapeutic response.

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