Background Collection of exhaled breath condensate (EBC) is a simple, non-invasive method of obtaining samples from the airways and it can be repeated in short intervals without side effects; therefore, it provides an opportunity to monitor the changes in concentration of inflammatory mediators in the airways. However, EBC analysis still has several unresolved issues.
Objective To better understand the characteristics of EBC, we compared cysteinyl leukotriene (CysLT) concentrations between bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and EBC. We also attempted to correct CysLT concentrations in BALF and EBC diluted with saline and water vapour using biological markers.
Methods EBC was collected from 14 patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis before bronchoscopy. We measured CysLT concentrations and also quantified tyrosine, urea and total protein as possible biomarkers for correcting dilution.
Results (1) We have validated the quantification of CysLTs in EBC. (2) Although a significant correlation was observed among tyrosine and urea concentrations in BALF, urea and total protein concentrations were below the detection limit in EBC. (3) CysLT concentrations were higher in BALF than in EBC (median, 15.96 pg/mL vs. 5.5 pg/mL; P=0.001) and there was no correlation of CysLT concentrations in BALF with those in EBC. A significant correlation of the ratio of total CysLT concentration to tyrosine concentration (CysLT/Y) in EBC with that in BALF was observed (r=0.547, P=0.043). (4) CysLT/Y in EBC correlated with serum KL-6 concentration and total cell count in BALF, and CysLT/Y in BALF also correlated with exhaled NO concentration and %VC.
Conclusions CysLT/Y in EBC significantly correlated with that in BALF and some clinical parameters correlated with CysLT/Y. Tyrosine concentration may be used to correct the dilution error for CysLT concentrations, and CysLT/Y in EBC can be a surrogate marker for CysLT concentrations in BALF.