Increased cytokines, chemokines and soluble adhesion molecules in exhaled breath condensate of asthmatic children


C. M. H. H. T. Robroeks, Department of Paediatrics, University Hospital Maastricht, PO Box 5800, 6202 AZ Maastricht, the Netherlands. E-mail:


Background Airway inflammation in asthma is characterized by the production of cytokines, chemokines and soluble adhesion molecules. The assessment of these inflammatory biomarkers in exhaled breath condensate (EBC) is hampered by low detection rates. However, the use of a glass condenser system combined with a sensitive analytical technique may increase the possibility to assess these biomarkers in EBC in a reliable way.

Objective (1) To assess the detection rates of cytokines (IL-1α, -1β, -2, -4, -5, -6, -10, -12p70, -13, -18, IFN-γ, TNF-α), chemokines [MIP1α (CCL3), MIF, eotaxin (CCL11), RANTES (CCL5), IP10 (CXCL10), IL8 (CXCL8), MCP1] and soluble adhesion molecules [soluble intercellular adhesion molecule (sICAM), soluble vascular adhesion molecule (sVCAM)] in EBC of children with asthma and healthy control children;
(2) To study the differences in the biomarker concentration between children with asthma and controls.

Methods Sixty children were included: 31 asthmatics (71% atopic) and 29 controls. Exhaled breath condensate was collected using a glass condenser system. The inflammatory markers (IM) were analysed using multiplex immunoassay technology.

Results Detection percentages of cytokines, chemokines and adhesion molecules ranged from 94% to 100%, except for eotaxin (CCL11) and RANTES (CCL5) (detection rates of 10% and 45% in healthy controls, respectively). The intra-subject variability of biomarkers in EBC in the group as a whole ranged from 5.2% to 35.0%. In asthmatics, the levels of cytokines (IL-2, -4, -5, -6, -13, IFN-γ), chemokines (MIP1α [CCL3], MIF, RANTES [CCL5], IP10 [CXCL10], IL8 [CXCL8], MCP1) and adhesion molecules (sICAM, sVCAM) were significantly increased in comparison with controls (P<0.05).

Conclusion If collected with a glass condenser and analysed by multiplex immunoassay technology, cytokines, chemokines and soluble adhesion molecules can be reliably demonstrated in EBC of children. Most of these IM were elevated in EBC of asthmatics compared with controls.

Cite this as: C. M. H. H. T. Robroeks, G. T. Rijkers, Q. Jöbsis, H. J. E. Hendriks, J. G. M. C. Damoiseaux, L. J. I. Zimmermann, O. P. van Schayck, E. Dompeling, Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2010 (40) 77–84.