In vitro volatile organic compound profiling using GCGC-TOFMS to differentiate bacteria associated with lung infections: A proof-of-concept study

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Breath Research, 2016, 10 (2)
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© 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd. Chronic pulmonary infections are the principal cause of morbidity and mortality in individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF). Due to the polymicrobial nature of these infections, the identification of the particular bacterial species responsible is an essential step in diagnosis and treatment. Current diagnostic procedures are time-consuming, and can also be expensive, invasive and unpleasant in the absence of spontaneously expectorated sputum. The development of a rapid, non-invasive methodology capable of diagnosing and monitoring early bacterial infection is desired. Future visions of real-time, in situ diagnosis via exhaled breath testing rely on the differentiation of bacteria based on their volatile metabolites. The objective of this proof-of-concept study was to investigate whether a range of CF-associated bacterial species (i.e. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Burkholderia cenocepacia, Haemophilus influenzae, Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Streptococcus milleri) could be differentiated based on their in vitro volatile metabolomic profiles. Headspace samples were collected using solid phase microextraction (SPME), analyzed using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GCGC-TOFMS) and evaluated using principal component analysis (PCA) in order to assess the multivariate structure of the data. Although it was not possible to effectively differentiate all six bacteria using this method, the results revealed that the presence of a particular pattern of VOCs (rather than a single VOC biomarker) is necessary for bacterial species identification. The particular pattern of VOCs was found to be dependent upon the bacterial growth phase (e.g. logarithmic versus stationary) and sample storage conditions (e.g. short-term versus long-term storage at -18 °C). Future studies of CF-associated bacteria and exhaled breath condensate will benefit from the approaches presented in this study and further facilitate the production of diagnostic tools for the early detection of bacterial lung infections.
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