Asthmatics exhale fewer airway particles than healthy controls

Particles in exhaled air reflect the composition of respiratory tract lining fluid and could server as biomarkers for respiratory diseases such as asthma. This study from Sweden analyzed the particles exhaled from 15 patients with asthma and 11 controls using time-of-flight–secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS).

Asthmatics exhaled fewer particles than controls. The ratio of unsaturated to saturated phospholipids was also lower in patients with asthma.

The study authors concluded that analysis of exhaled particles is a promising method to examine the composition of respiratory tract lining fluid. This exploratory study successfully differentiated asthmatics and healthy controls based on spectrometry of exhaled air.

Editor's note: This is an interesting study but its practical implications in the near future are unclear.


TOF-SIMS analysis of exhaled particles from patients with asthma and healthy controls. A-C. Almstrand et al. ERJ January 1, 2012 vol. 39 no. 1 59-66.

Image source: OpenClipArt, public domain.

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