Breath analysis combined with cardiopulmonary exercise testing and echocardiography for monitoring heart failure patients: the AEOLUS protocol.

Biagini D; Pugliese NR; Vivaldi FM; Ghimenti S; Lenzi A; De Angelis F; Ripszam M; Bruderer T; Armenia S; Cappeli F; Taddei S;
Masi S; Francesco FD; Lomonaco T;

Journal of breath research [J Breath Res] 2023 Aug 09; Vol. 17 (4).
Date of Electronic Publication: 2023 Aug 09.

This paper describes the AEOLUS pilot study which combines breath analysis with cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) and an echocardiographic examination for monitoring heart failure (HF) patients. Ten consecutive patients with a prior clinical diagnosis of HF with reduced left ventricular ejection fraction were prospectively enrolled together with 15 control patients with cardiovascular risk factors, including hypertension, type II diabetes or chronic ischemic heart disease. Breath samples were collected at rest and during CPET coupled with exercise stress echocardiography (CPET-ESE) protocol by means of needle trap micro-extraction and were analyzed through gas-chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. The protocol also involved using of a selected ion flow tube mass spectrometer for a breath-by-breath isoprene and acetone analysis during exercise. At rest, HF patients showed increased breath levels of acetone and pentane, which are related to altered oxidation of fatty acids and oxidative stress, respectively. A significant positive correlation was observed between acetone and the gold standard biomarker NT-proBNP in plasma ( r = 0.646, p < 0.001), both measured at rest. During exercise, some exhaled volatiles (e.g., isoprene) mirrored ventilatory and/or hemodynamic adaptation, whereas others (e.g., sulfide compounds and 3-hydroxy-2-butanone) depended on their origin. At peak effort, acetone levels in HF patients differed significantly from those of the control group, suggesting an altered myocardial and systemic metabolic adaptation to exercise for HF patients. These preliminary data suggest that concomitant acquisition of CPET-ESE and breath analysis is feasible and might provide additional clinical information on the metabolic maladaptation of HF patients to exercise. Such information may refine the identification of patients at higher risk of disease worsening.