A preliminary investigation of exhaled breath from patients with celiac disease using selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry

Alexa Kathryn Hryniuk, Brian M. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background and aims: Breath diagnostics, the measurement of volatile chemicals in human breath, is currently receiving attention as a technique for the detection of disease which, being non-invasive in nature, is particularly suited to screening for pre-symptomatic disease in healthy populations. A disorder in which more effective screening would be beneficial is celiac disease (CD), an under-diagnosed autoimmune disease of the small intestine characterized by nutritional malabsorption, which presents with diverse, and sometimes serious, symptoms. We aimed to determine whether breath analyses could be used to screen for the presence of CD. Methods: Based on our hypotheses that malabsorption of dietary carbohydrates would lead to over production of alcohol fermentation products in the large intestine, we investigated levels of alcohols in the breath of 10 patients with CD compared to that in 10 healthy controls using selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS). Results: No differences were found in the breath levels of methanol, propanol, butanol, heptanol or hexanol investigated using chemical ionization of breath air with H 3O + and/or NO + precursor ions. In one patient, diagnosed within days of our study and not currently in receipt of any therapeutic intervention, a relatively high production of three product ions was detected compared to all other study patients. Conclusion: Our data suggest that breath alcohol levels are unlikely to be of diagnostic use in CD, although further investigation of those recently diagnosed with the disorder may be warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-20
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 27 2010


  • Breath analysis
  • Butanol
  • Celiac disease
  • Hexanol
  • Methanol
  • Pentanol
  • Propanol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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