Measured exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in-breath also referred to as exhaled volatilome have been long claimed as a potential source of non-invasive and clinically applicable biomarkers. However, the feasibility of using exhaled volatilome in clinical practice remains to be demonstrated, particularly in pediatrics where the need for improved non-invasive diagnostic and monitoring methods is most urgent. This work presents the first formal evidence-based judgment of the clinical potential of breath volatilome in the pediatric population.
A rigorous systematic review across Web of Science, SCOPUS, and PubMed databases following the PRISMA statement guidelines. A narrative synthesis of the evidence was conducted and QUADAS-2 was used to assess the quality of selected studies.
Two independent reviewers deemed 22 out of the 229 records initially found to satisfy inclusion criteria. A summary of breath VOCs found to be relevant for several respiratory, infectious, and metabolic pathologies was conducted. In addition, we assessed their associated metabolism coverage through a functional characterization analysis.
Our results indicate that current research remains stagnant in a preclinical exploratory setting. Designing exploratory experiments in compliance with metabolomics practice should drive forward the clinical translation of VOCs breath analysis.
What is the key message of your article?Metabolomics practice could help to achieve the clinical utility of exhaled volatilome analysis.What does it add to the existing literature?This work is the first systematic review focused on disease status discrimination using analysis of exhaled breath in the pediatric population. A summary of the reported exhaled volatile organic compounds is conducted together with a functional characterization analysis.What is the impact?Having noted challenges preventing the clinical translation, we summary metabolomics practices and the experimental designs that are closer to clinical practice to create a framework to guide future trials.Fig. 1Flow diagram of PRISMA-oriented systematic search and literature records selection.Fig. 2VOCS DISCRIMINANT PROFILE SUMMARIZED ACROSS THE STUDIES INCLUDED IN THE QUALITATIVE SYNTHESIS.: a Asthma or allergic asthma patients vs. healthy controls (HCTR). b Asthma with exacerbations vs. stable patients. c Cystic fibrosis (CF) vs. HCTR.Fig. 3QUALITY ASSESSMENT OF THE INCLUDED STUDIES IN THE QUALITATIVE SYNTHESIS THROUGH QUADAS-2 SCORING SYSTEM.: a Summary for individual studies. Display of b risk of bias and c applicability concerns across different domains.

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