Bacterial infection in exhaled breath

August 25, 2017, Radboud University
Simona Cristescu. Credit: Radboud University

Although ethylene (or ethene) is best known as a plant hormone, humans also produce it as consequence of oxidative stress, caused, for example, by UV radiation from the sun. An international team led by Simona Cristescu from Radboud University found that ethylene is produced during inflammation and quickly released in exhaled breath as a biomarker of bacterial infection, thus having important clinical implications. The study has been published by Scientific Reports on July 31.

Traces of ethylene were detected by laser spectroscopy as part of the systemic inflammatory response to bacterial infection, both in isolated blood leukocytes as well as in a controlled experiments with healthy volunteers. In the publication, specialists from the Radboud Trace Gas Facility and several medical groups from Radboud UMC, Johns Hopkins University and the Imperial College London explain how ethylene is being formed as a product of the so called respiratory burst. This is a key component of the immune system, when the body releases reactive oxygen species to fight against invading bacteria. Not only the targeted bacteria suffer from this, the human tissue gets hurt as well. Oxidation of lipids in the cell walls result in ethylene emanation.

Simona Cristescu from Radboud University's Institute for Molecules and Materials explains the importance of the finding: "Our results highlight that ethylene release is an early biomarker of . In humans, ethylene was detected at least half an hour earlier than the increase of blood levels of inflammatory cytokines and stress-related hormones. For patients in intensive care this could mean a difference between life and death."

Laurent Paardekooper, researcher at the Radboud University medical center (Radboudumc) and first author of the article, explains: "The first possible application I see is continuous monitoring of patients that are on artificial respiration. These people have an increased risk of dangerous infections, and because their breath is already going through a machine, it is easy to monitor it for ethylene."

According to Cristescu, taking breath samples for analysis is very easy for both patients and staff. Sensor Sense, a spinoff company of Radboud University's Trace Gas Facility, markets a small device that hospitals can use for real-time analysis of exhaled .

Explore further: Acetone in breath of Four Days Marches participants provides information on fat-burning

More information: Laurent M. Paardekooper et al. Ethylene, an early marker of systemic inflammation in humans, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-05930-9

Related Stories

Acetone in breath of Four Days Marches participants provides information on fat-burning

July 9, 2014
Physicists at Radboud University Nijmegen have shown for the first time that the concentration of acetone in breath is a suitable marker of fat-burning during physical activity. Their study, conducted on walkers taking part ...

Recommended for you

Infants born to obese mothers risk developing liver disease, obesity

November 16, 2018
Infant gut microbes altered by their mother's obesity can cause inflammation and other major changes within the baby, increasing the risk of obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease later in life, according to researchers ...

New study shows NKT cell subsets play a large role in the advancement of NAFLD

November 16, 2018
Since 2015 it has been known that the gut microbiota could have a direct impact on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which affects up to 12% of adults and is a leading cause of chronic liver disease. In the November ...

Antibiotic prescribing influenced by team dynamics within hospitals

November 15, 2018
Antibiotic prescribing by doctors is influenced by team dynamics and cultures within hospitals.

Zika may hijack mother-fetus immunity route

November 14, 2018
To cross the placenta, Zika virus may hijack the route by which acquired immunity is transferred from mother to fetus, new research suggests.

New research aims to help improve uptake of hepatitis C testing

November 14, 2018
New research published in Scientific Reports shows persisting fears about HIV infection may impact testing uptake for the hepatitis C Virus (HCV).

Maternally acquired Zika immunity can increase dengue disease severity in mouse pups

November 14, 2018
To say that the immune system is complex is an understatement: an immune response protective in one context can turn deadly over time, as evidenced by numerous epidemiological studies on dengue infection, spanning multiple ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

gzurbay
not rated yet Aug 26, 2017
Does this suggest that a chronic bacterial infection could damage neural lipids and be the de-facto basis for nerve damage in diabetes? In disease such as ALS? Further could this damage be connected to a chronic intestinal state of dis-biosis?

Could there be reason to investigate ALS suffers in a simple ALS population survey?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.