Exhaled breath condensate pepsin: potential noninvasive test for gastroesophageal reflux in COPD and bronchiectasis

Annemarie Lee, Brenda Button, Linda Denehy, Stuart Keith Roberts, Tiffany L Bamford, Fi-Tjen Mu, Nicole Andrea Mifsud, Robert G Stirling, John W Wilson

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35 Citations (Scopus)


Acid gastroesophageal reflux is a common problem in non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis and COPD. Invasive methods are used to diagnose gastroesophageal reflux, but the ability to detect pulmonary microaspiration of gastric contents using this method is unclear. A noninvasive option to detect pulmonary microaspiration is to measure pepsin in exhaled breath condensate (EBC), but this has not been related to esophageal pH monitoring in these lung conditions. This study aimed to measure pepsin concentrations and pH in EBC and to determine the relationship to gastroesophageal reflux in bronchiectasis or COPD. METHODS: Subjects with bronchiectasis (n = 10) or COPD (n = 10) and control subjects (n = 10) completed 24-h esophageal pH monitoring for detection of acid gastroesophageal reflux, measuring the percentage of reflux time in the proximal esophagus and the DeMeester score (DMS). Concurrently, 3 samples of EBC were collected from each subject, and pH was measured and pepsin concentrations were analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. RESULTS: EBC pepsin was detected in subjects with bronchiectasis (44 ) or COPD (56 ) and in control subjects (10 ). A diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux was not associated with a higher concentration of EBC pepsin in bronchiectasis (P = .21) or COPD (P = .11). EBC pepsin concentration did not correlate with DMS (rs = 0.36) or proximal reflux index (rs = 0.25) in subjects with bronchiectasis or with DMS (rs = 0.28) or proximal reflux index (rs = 0.21) in patients with COPD. EBC and sputum pepsin concentrations were moderately correlated in bronchiectasis (rs = 0.56) and in COPD (rs = 0.43). CONCLUSIONS: Pepsin is detectable in EBC samples in bronchiectasis and COPD. Although no association was found between pepsin concentrations and a diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux, a moderate relationship between sputum and EBC pepsin concentrations suggests that EBC pepsin may be a useful noninvasive marker of pulmonary microaspi
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-250
Number of pages7
JournalRespiratory Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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