Identification of exhaled volatile organic compounds that characterize asthma phenotypes: A J-VOCSA study

Maho Suzukawa, Ken Ohta, Masahiro Sugimoto, Nobuharu Ohshima, Nobuyuki Kobayashi, Hiroyuki Tashimo, Yasushi Tanimoto, Junko Itano, Goro Kimura, Shohei Takata, Takako Nakano, Takafumi Yamashita, Satoshi Ikegame, Kentaro Hyodo, Masahiro Abe, Kenji Chibana, Yosuke Kamide, Kazunori Sasaki, Hiroya Hashimoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Asthma is characterized by phenotypes of different clinical, demographic, and pathological characteristics. Identifying the profile of exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in asthma phenotypes may facilitate establishing biomarkers and understanding asthma background pathogenesis. This study aimed to identify exhaled VOCs that characterize severe asthma phenotypes among patients with asthma. Methods: This was a multicenter cross-sectional study of patients with severe asthma in Japan. Clinical data were obtained from medical records, and questionnaires were collected. Exhaled breath was sampled and subjected to thermal desorption gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Results: Using the decision tree established in the previous nationwide asthma cohort study, 245 patients with asthma were divided into five phenotypes and subjected to exhaled VOC analysis with 50 healthy controls (HCs). GC/MS detected 243 VOCs in exhaled breath samples, and 142 frequently detected VOCs (50% of all samples) were used for statistical analyses. Cluster analysis assigning the groups with similar VOC profile patterns showed the highest similarities between phenotypes 3 and 4 (early-onset asthma phenotypes), followed by the similarities between phenotypes 1 and 2 (late-onset asthma phenotypes). Comparisons between phenotypes 1–5 and HC revealed 19 VOCs, in which only methanesulfonic anhydride showed p < 0.05 adjusted by false discovery rate (FDR). Comparison of these phenotypes yielded several VOCs showing different trends (p < 0.05); however, no VOCs showed p < 0.05 adjusted by FDR. Conclusions: Exhaled VOC profiles may be useful for distinguishing asthma and asthma phenotypes; however, these findings need to be validated, and their pathological roles should be clarified.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAllergology International
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy


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