A new study has shown the potential use of a breath analysis test to help diagnose and monitor irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Findings from the study are published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
Due to its heterogeneity and complex pathophysiology, the diagnosis of IBS is challenging. Currently, no biomarkers of IBS have been identified. Researchers from The Netherlands conducted a case-control study where a breath analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) was used to distinguish IBS patients from healthy controls. The VOC-biomarker set was then associated with patient-reported gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms from the clinical cohort (Maastricht IBS) and the general population cohort (LifeLines DEEP).
Researchers collected breath samples from 170 IBS patients and 153 healthy controls from the clinical cohort and 1,307 samples from the general population cohort. They identified a set of 16 VOCs that accurately predicted 89.4% of the IBS patients and 73.3% of the healthy controls. The biomarkers showed moderate correlation with a set of GI symptoms in the clinical (r=0.55; P=0.0003) and general population cohorts (r=0.54; P=0.0004). Further testing indicated no influence from potentially confounding factors in distinguishing patients with IBS vs. healthy controls.
Senior author Professor Frederik-Jan van Schooten, stated, “Now we know which chemicals in breath have diagnostic information that we can use to develop noninvasive tools to follow the disease and to steer therapeutic interventions.”
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