Breath ethane in dialysis patients and control subjects

Garry J. Handelman, Laura M. Rosales, Damian Barbato, Jason Luscher, Rohini Adhikarla, Robert J. Nicolosi, Frederic O. Finkelstein, Claudio Ronco, George Kaysen, Nicholas A. Hoenich, Nathan W. Levin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Oxidant stress may play a role in the accelerated pathology of patients on dialysis, especially in the development of cardiovascular disease, which is a frequent condition in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients. Measurement of hydrocarbons can be employed to assess oxidant stress since breath hydrocarbons have been directly traced to in vivo breakdown of lipid hydroperoxides. We undertook to measure ethane, a major breath hydrocarbon, in 15 control subjects, 13 patients on peritoneal dialysis (PD), and 35 patients on hemodialysis (HD). Within the HD group, we separately examined 12 diabetic and 23 nondiabetic patients. Breath samples were collected after patients had breathed purified air for 4 min, and ethane content was measured by GC and expressed as pmoles/kg-body weight-minute (pmol/kg-min). As the data for the hemodialysis patients appeared skewed, nonparametric statistical techniques were employed to analyze these data, which are reported as median and interquartile range (IQR). Ethane levels were similar in 15 control subjects (median, 2.50 pmol [1.38-3.30]/kg-min] and 13 PD patients (median, 2.51 pmol [1.57-3.17]/kg-min). Breath ethane was significantly elevated in a portion (18 of 35 patients, 52%) of the HD patients (median, 6.16 pmol [4.46-8.88]/kg-min) (p < .001 vs. control, Mann-Whitney U test). Two of the diabetic HD patients showed extremely high values of breath ethane. Breath ethane was not altered by a single hemodialysis session, suggesting that long-term metabolic processes contribute to its elevation. Measurement of breath ethane may provide insight into severity of oxidant stress and metabolic disturbances, and provide guidance for optimal therapy and prevention of pathology in patients on long-term hemodialysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-23
Number of pages7
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Breath hydrocarbon
  • Ethane
  • Free radicals
  • Hemodialysis
  • Oxidant stress
  • Peritoneal dialysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Toxicology
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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