BACKGROUND: Exhaled biomarkers may be related to disease processes in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) however their clinical role remains unclear. We performed a systematic review to investigate whether breath biomarkers discriminate between patients with IPF and healthy controls. We also assessed correlation with lung function, ability to distinguish diagnostic subgroups and change in response to treatment.
METHODS: MEDLINE, EMBASE and Web of Science databases were searched. Study selection was limited to adults with a diagnosis of IPF as per international guidelines.
RESULTS: Of 1014 studies screened, fourteen fulfilled selection criteria and included 257 IPF patients. Twenty individual biomarkers discriminated between IPF and controls and four showed correlation with lung function. Meta-analysis of three studies indicated mean (± SD) alveolar nitric oxide (CalvNO) levels were significantly higher in IPF (8.5 ± 5.5 ppb) than controls (4.4 ± 2.2 ppb). Markers of oxidative stress in exhaled breath condensate, such as hydrogen peroxide and 8-isoprostane, were also discriminatory. Two breathomic studies have isolated discriminative compounds using mass spectrometry. There was a lack of studies assessing relevant treatment and none assessed differences in diagnostic subgroups.
CONCLUSIONS: Evidence suggests CalvNO is higher in IPF, although studies were limited by small sample size. Further breathomic work may identify biomarkers with diagnostic and prognostic potential.