Exhaled breath condensate (EBC) is a rapidly growing field of research in respiratory medicine. Airway inflammation is a central feature of chronic lung diseases, like asthma, cystic fibrosis, bronchopulmonary dysplasia and primary ciliary dyskinesia. EBC may be a useful technique for non-invasive assessment of markers of airway inflammation. The non-invasive character of EBC ‘inflammometry’ and the general lack of appropriate techniques makes it particularly interesting for paediatrics.
We provide a detailed update on the methods currently used for EBC collection and measurement of mediators. We emphasize on paediatric data. The apparent simplicity of the EBC method must not be overstated, as numerous methodological pitfalls have yet to overcome. Comparison and interpretation of data on this rapidly growing field of research is mainly hampered by the lack of standardization and the lack of specific high-sensitivity immunochemical or colorimetric assays. The initiative of the European Respiratory Society to institute a task force on this topic is a first step towards a uniform technique of EBC. Meanwhile, when using this technique or when interpreting research data, one should be fully aware of the possible methodological pitfalls.