Defining adult asthma endotypes by clinical features and patterns of volatile organic compounds in exhaled air

N. Meyer*, J.W. Dallinga, S. Nuss, E. Moonen, J. van Berkel, C. Akdis, F.J. van Schooten, G. Menz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BackgroundSeveral classifications of adult asthma patients using cluster analyses based on clinical and demographic information has resulted in clinical phenotypic clusters that do not address molecular mechanisms. Volatile organic compounds (VOC) in exhaled air are released during inflammation in response to oxidative stress as a result of activated leukocytes. VOC profiles in exhaled air could distinguish between asthma patients and healthy subjects. In this study, we aimed to classify new asthma endotypes by combining inflammatory mechanisms investigated by VOC profiles in exhaled air and clinical information of asthma patients.MethodsBreath samples were analyzed for VOC profiles by gas chromatography inverted question markmass spectrometry from asthma patients (n inverted question mark= inverted question mark195) and healthy controls (n inverted question mark= inverted question mark40). A total of 945 determined compounds were subjected to discriminant analysis to find those that could discriminate healthy from asthmatic subjects. 2-step cluster analysis based on clinical information and VOCs in exhaled air were used to form asthma endotypes.ResultsWe identified 16 VOCs, which could distinguish between healthy and asthma subjects with a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 91.1%. Cluster analysis based on VOCs in exhaled air and the clinical parameters FEV1, FEV1 change after 3 weeks of hospitalization, allergic sensitization, Junipers symptoms score and asthma medications resulted in the formation of 7 different asthma endotype clusters. We identified asthma clusters with different VOC profiles but similar clinical characteristics and endotypes with similar VOC profiles, but distinct clinical characteristics.ConclusionThis study demonstrates that both, clinical presentation of asthma and inflammatory mechanisms in the airways should be considered for classification of asthma subtypes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number136
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalRespiratory Research
Issue number136
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2014


  • Asthma
  • Endotypes
  • Phenotype
  • Volatile organic compounds
  • Exhaled air
  • Cluster


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