Exhaled breath condensate appears to be an unsuitable specimen type for the detection of influenza viruses with nucleic acid-based methods

Kirsten St. George, Meghan E. Fuschino, Katharine Mokhiber, Wayne Triner, Simon D. Spivack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Exhaled breath condensate is an airway-derived specimen type that has shown significant promise in the diagnosis of asthma, cancer, and other disorders. The presence of human genomic DNA in this sample type has been proven, but there have been no reports on its utility for the detection of respiratory pathogens. The suitability of exhaled breath condensate for the detection of influenza virus was investigated, as an indication of its potential as a specimen type for respiratory pathogen discovery work. Matched exhaled condensates and nasopharyngeal swabs were collected from 18 adult volunteers. Eleven cases were positive for influenza A virus, and one was positive for influenza B virus. All swab samples tested positive in real-time amplification assays, but only one exhaled condensate, an influenza A positive sample with a very high viral load, tested positive in the real-time RT-PCR assay. Most of the positive nasopharyngeal swab samples inoculated for virus culture also tested positive, whereas influenza virus was not grown from any of the exhaled condensate specimens. It was concluded that influenza viruses are not readily detectable with culture or nucleic acid-based techniques in this sample type, and that exhaled breath condensate may not be suitable for respiratory pathogen investigations with molecular methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-146
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Virological Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010



  • Exhaled breath condensate
  • Influenza
  • Respiratory virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology

Cite this