Introduction Resident colonic bacteria, principally anaerobes and firmicutes, ferment undigested fibre. The resultant volatile organic compounds (VOCs) formed are dissolved in the faeces but also absorbed and excreted in the urine. We have previously shown that electronic nose (E-nose) analysis of urine VOCs distinguishes between Crohn's disease (CD), ulcerative colitis (UC) and healthy volunteers (HV): the underlying principle is pattern recognition of disease-specific “chemical fingerprint”. High-Field Asymmetric Waveform Ion Mobility Spectrometry (FAIMS) offers a possible alternative. The underlying principle is separation of VOC chemical components based on their different ion mobilties in high electric fields. We performed a pilot study in the above groups, the patients in remission (Rem) or with active disease (AD), to assess if this technology could achieve separation between the groups. The results were validated against E-nose analysis.
Methods 59 subjects were studied; HV n=14, UC (Rem) n=18, UC (AD) n=4; CD (Rem) n=19, CD (AD) n=4. Urine samples (7 ml) in universal containers (25 ml) were heated to 40±0.1 C. The headspace (the air above the sample) was then analysed using FAIMS. The data were analysed by Fisher Discriminant Analysis.
Results The technique distinguished between the three groups. Additionally, patients with active disease could be distinguished from those in remission. These results were concordant with E-nose analysis.
Conclusion This pilot shows that urine VOCs, analysed by the different approaches of E-nose and FAIMS, the latter a novel application, can distinguish the healthy from those with UC and CD when disease is active or in remission. The two technologies together offer a non-invasive approach to diagnosis and follow-up in inflammatory bowel disease.
Competing interests None declared.
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