Question addressed: Circadian rhythms control many biological processes in the body in both health and disease. Greater understanding of diurnal variability in disease related biomarkers is crucial for their application in clinical practice and biomarkers of circadian rhythm are required to facilitate further research into disturbed chronicity. To determine if fractional exhaled nitric oxide and breath volatile biomarkers vary rhythmically during the day in healthy and asthmatic individuals.
Methods: Ten individuals with moderate, atopic asthma (on regular inhaled corticosteroids) and 10 healthy volunteers (all non-smokers) completed an overnight visit where their exhaled breath volatiles and forced exhaled nitric oxide levels were collected every 6 hours. Breath volatiles were analysed using gas chromatography mass spectrometry, after trapping these volatiles on sorbent materials for thermal desorption.
Results: Nine breath volatiles (including acetone and isoprene) exhibit diurnal variation across all individuals. Furthermore the circadian pattern of several VOCs is altered in individuals with asthma and fractional exhaled nitric oxide is rhythmic in asthma but not in healthy controls.
Conclusions: Markers of circadian rhythm can be identified in breath and may offer insight into circadian profiling to help treat disease. Additionally this work suggests that time of day must be controlled when designing future biomarker discovery studies. Further work is required with larger cohorts to validate and extend these findings.