Breath analysis is a promising field with great potential for non-invasive diagnosis of a number of disease states. Analysis of the concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in breath with an acceptable accuracy are assessed by means of using analytical techniques with high sensitivity, accuracy, precision, low response time, and low detection limit, which are desirable characteristics for the detection of VOCs in human breath. "Breath fingerprinting", indicative of a specific clinical status, relies on the use of multivariate statistics methods with powerful in-built algorithms. The need for standardisation of sample collection and analysis is the main issue concerning breath analysis, blocking the introduction of breath tests into clinical practice. This review describes recent scientific developments in basic research and clinical applications, namely issues concerning sampling and biochemistry, highlighting the diagnostic potential of breath analysis for disease diagnosis. Several considerations that need to be taken into account in breath analysis are documented here, including the growing need for metabolomics to deal with breath profiles.
Split-hand/foot malformation type 1 is an autosomal dominant condition with reduced penetrance and variable expression. We report three individuals from two families with split-hand/split-foot malformation (SHFM) in whom next generation sequencing was performed to investigate the cause of their phenotype.
Group A streptococcal isolates of serotype M18 are historically associated with epidemic waves of pharyngitis and the non-suppurative immune sequela rheumatic fever. The serotype is defined by a unique, highly encapsulated phenotype, yet the molecular basis for this unusual colony morphology is unknown. Here we identify a truncation in the regulatory protein RocA, unique to and conserved within our serotype M18 GAS collection, and demonstrate that it underlies the characteristic M18 capsule phenotype. Reciprocal allelic exchange mutagenesis of rocA between M18 GAS and M89 GAS demonstrated that truncation of RocA was both necessary and sufficient for hyper-encapsulation via up-regulation of both precursors required for hyaluronic acid synthesis. Although RocA was shown to positively enhance covR transcription, quantitative proteomics revealed RocA to be a metabolic regulator with activity beyond the CovR/S regulon. M18 GAS demonstrated a uniquely protuberant chain formation following culture on agar that was dependent on excess capsule and the RocA mutation. Correction of the M18 rocA mutation reduced GAS survival in human blood, and in vivo naso-pharyngeal carriage longevity in a murine model, with an associated drop in bacterial airborne transmission during infection. In summary, a naturally occurring truncation in a regulator explains the encapsulation phenotype, carriage longevity and transmissibility of M18 GAS, highlighting the close interrelation of metabolism, capsule and virulence.
The aim of this study was to determine whether volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in the headspace of feces could be used to diagnose or distinguish between chronic diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and apparently healthy volunteers.
A regioselective palladium-catalyzed allylic alkylation cascade forms furo[3,2-c]pyrans from various cyclic ?-dicarbonyl bis-nucleophiles and 3,6-dihydro-2H-pyran bis-electrophiles. The combination of allylic carbonate and anomeric siloxy leaving groups in the dihydropyran substrate allows control of the many regiochemical possibilities in this reaction. Annulation proceeds stereoconvergently to give cis-fused furopyrans from either cis- or trans-substituted starting material.
Sepsis is now the leading direct cause of maternal death in the United Kingdom, and Streptococcus pyogenes is the leading pathogen. We combined conventional and genomic analyses to define the duration and scale of a lethal outbreak. Two postpartum deaths caused by S. pyogenes occurred within 24 h; one was characterized by bacteremia and shock and the other by hemorrhagic pneumonia. The women gave birth within minutes of each other in the same maternity unit 2 days earlier. Seven additional infections in health care and household contacts were subsequently detected and treated. All cluster-associated S. pyogenes isolates were genotype emm1 and were initially indistinguishable from other United Kingdom emm1 isolates. Sequencing of the virulence gene sic revealed that all outbreak isolates had the same unique sic type. Genome sequencing confirmed that the cluster was caused by a unique S. pyogenes clone. Transmission between patients occurred on a single day and was associated with casual contact only. A single isolate from one patient demonstrated a sequence change in sic consistent with longer infection duration. Transmission to health care workers was traced to single clinical contacts with index cases. The last case was detected 18 days after the first case. Following enhanced surveillance, the outbreak isolate was not detected again. Mutations in bacterial regulatory genes played no detectable role in this outbreak, illustrating the intrinsic ability of emm1 S. pyogenes to spread while retaining virulence. This fast-moving outbreak highlights the potential of S. pyogenes to cause a range of diseases in the puerperium with rapid transmission, underlining the importance of immediate recognition and response by clinical infection and occupational health teams.
Imprinting disorders are associated with mutations and epimutations affecting imprinted genes, that is those whose expression is restricted by parent of origin. Their diagnosis is challenging for two reasons: firstly, their clinical features, particularly prenatal and postnatal growth disturbance, are heterogeneous and partially overlapping; secondly, their underlying molecular defects include mutation, epimutation, copy number variation, and chromosomal errors, and can be further complicated by somatic mosaicism and multi-locus methylation defects. It is currently unclear to what extent the observed phenotypic heterogeneity reflects the underlying molecular pathophysiology; in particular, the molecular and clinical diversity of multilocus methylation defects remains uncertain. To address these issues we performed comprehensive methylation analysis of imprinted genes in a research cohort of 285 patients with clinical features of imprinting disorders, with or without a positive molecular diagnosis. 20 of 91 patients (22%) with diagnosed epimutations had methylation defects of additional imprinted loci, and the frequency of developmental delay and congenital anomalies was higher among these patients than those with isolated epimutations, indicating that hypomethylation of multiple imprinted loci is associated with increased diversity of clinical presentation. Among 194 patients with clinical features of an imprinting disorder but no molecular diagnosis, we found 15 (8%) with methylation anomalies, including missed and unexpected molecular diagnoses. These observations broaden the phenotypic and epigenetic definitions of imprinting disorders, and show the importance of comprehensive molecular testing for patient diagnosis and management.
Streptococcus pyogenes infection of the nasopharynx represents a key step in the pathogenic cycle of this organism and a major focus for vaccine development, requiring robust models to facilitate the screening of potentially protective antigens. One antigen that may be an important target for vaccination is the chemokine protease, SpyCEP, which is cell surface-associated and plays a role in pathogenesis. Biophotonic imaging (BPI) can non-invasively characterize the spatial location and abundance of bioluminescent bacteria in vivo. We have developed a bioluminescent derivative of a pharyngeal S. pyogenes strain by transformation of an emm75 clinical isolate with the luxABCDE operon. Evaluation of isogenic recombinant strains in vitro and in vivo confirmed that bioluminescence conferred a growth deficit that manifests as a fitness cost during infection. Notwithstanding this, bioluminescence expression permitted non-invasive longitudinal quantitation of S. pyogenes within the murine nasopharynx albeit with a detection limit corresponding to approximately 10(5) bacterial colony forming units (CFU) in this region. Vaccination of mice with heat killed streptococci, or with SpyCEP led to a specific IgG response in the serum. BPI demonstrated that both vaccine candidates reduced S. pyogenes bioluminescence emission over the course of nasopharyngeal infection. The work suggests the potential for BPI to be used in the non-invasive longitudinal evaluation of potential S. pyogenes vaccines.
Streptococcus pyogenes is a leading cause of pharyngeal infection, with an estimated 616 million cases per year. The human nasopharynx represents the major reservoir for all S. pyogenes infection, including severe invasive disease. To investigate bacterial and host factors that influence S. pyogenes infection, we have devised an improved murine model of nasopharyngeal colonization, with an optimized dosing volume to avoid fulminant infections and a sensitive host strain. In addition we have utilized a refined technique for longitudinal monitoring of bacterial burden that is non-invasive thereby reducing the numbers of animals required. The model was used to demonstrate that the two component regulatory system, CovR/S, is required for optimum infection and transmission from the nasopharynx. There is a fitness cost conferred by covR/S mutation that is specific to the nasopharynx. This may explain why S. pyogenes with altered covR/S have not become prevalent in community infections despite possessing a selective advantage in invasive infection.
The ability to monitor blood glucose noninvasively has long been a goal of those with diabetes, due to the pain and inconvenience of current blood glucose monitoring devices. This article investigates the potential for monitoring compounds in breath and emitted through skin for inferring blood glucose concentration. Potential markers and an assessment of their suitability for noninvasive monitoring are discussed. The varying technologies developed for monitoring volatile organic compounds in breath and from the skin of diabetics and their suitability for development as a hand-held device is reviewed. The potential exists for the use of breath and skin monitoring as an alternative to blood glucose, but it may take years to collect sufficient clinical data for robust correlations to be possible.
Methyl 2-[(diethoxyphosphoryl)methyl]benzoate reacts with several aldehydes to produce an alkenylphosphonate as the major product, together with varying amounts of the expected Horner-Wadsworth-Emmons product, a 1,2-disubstituted E-alkene. Use of a bulky aldehyde or the tert-butyl ester favours the normal HWE product.
Cantú syndrome, a rare disorder of congenital hypertrichosis, characteristic facial anomalies, cardiomegaly, and osteochondrodysplasia was first described in 1982 by Cantú. Twenty-three cases of Cantú syndrome have been reported to date. The pathogenesis of this rare autosomal dominant condition is unknown. We describe 10 patients with Cantú syndrome (9 new cases and the long-term follow-up of a 10th case reported by Robertson in 1999) comparing the phenotype with that of the previously reported cases. We describe how the distinctive facial appearance evolves with time and report several new findings including recurrent infections with low immunoglobulin levels and gastric bleeding in some of our patients. The cardiac manifestations include patent ductus arteriosus, septal hypertrophy, pulmonary hypertension, and pericardial effusions. They may follow a benign course, but of the 10 cases we report, 4 patients required surgical closure of the patent ductus arteriosus and 1 patient a pericardectomy. Long-term follow-up of these patients has shown reassuring neuro-developmental outcome and the emergence of a behavior phenotype including obsessive traits and anxiety.
In this paper, we present an optical diagnostic assay consisting of a mixture of environmental-sensitive fluorescent dyes combined with multivariate data analysis for quantitative and qualitative examination of biological and clinical samples. The performance of the assay is based on the analysis of spectrum of the selected fluorescent dyes with the operational principle similar to electronic nose and electronic tongue systems. This approach has been successfully applied for monitoring of growing cell cultures and identification of gastrointestinal diseases in humans.
Previous studies have indicated that volatile compounds specific to bladder cancer may exist in urine headspace, raising the possibility that headspace analysis could be used for diagnosis of this particular cancer. In this paper, we evaluate the use of a commercially available gas sensor array coupled with a specifically designed pattern recognition algorithm for this purpose. The best diagnostic performance that we were able to obtain with independent test data provided by healthy volunteers and bladder cancer patients was 70% overall accuracy (70% sensitivity and 70% specificity). When the data of patients suffering from other non-cancerous urological diseases were added to those of the healthy controls, the classification accuracy fell to 65% with 60% sensitivity and 67% specificity. While this is not sufficient for a diagnostic test, it is significantly better than random chance, leading us to conclude that there is useful information in the urine headspace but that a more informative analytical technique, such as mass spectrometry, is required if this is to be exploited fully.
SpyCEP is a Streptococcus pyogenes protease that cleaves CXCL8/IL-8 and its activity is associated with human invasive disease severity. We investigated the role of SpyCEP in S. pyogenes necrotizing fasciitis and respiratory tract infection in mice using isogenic strains differing only in SpyCEP expression. SpyCEP cleaved human CXCL1, 2, 6 and 8 plus murine CXCL1 and 2 at a structurally conserved site. Mice were infected in thigh muscle with a strain of S. pyogenes that expresses a high level of SpyCEP, or with an isogenic non-SpyCEP expressing strain. SpyCEP expression by S. pyogenes hindered bacterial clearance from muscle, and enhanced bacterial spread, associated with cleavage of murine chemoattractant CXCL1. Mice were then infected with Lactococcus lactis strains that differed only in SpyCEP expression. In contrast to the parent L. lactis strain (lacks SpyCEP), which was avirulent when administered intramuscularly, infection with a strain that expressed SpyCEP heterologously led to dramatic systemic illness within 24 h, failure to clear bacteria from muscle and marked dissemination to other organs. In the upper airways, SpyCEP expression was required for survival of L. lactis but not S. pyogenes. However, dissemination of S. pyogenes to the lung was SpyCEP-dependent and was associated with evidence of chemokine cleavage. Taken together, the studies provide clear evidence that SpyCEP is necessary and sufficient for systemic bacterial dissemination from a soft tissue focus in this model and also underlies dissemination in the respiratory tract.
This study was an investigation of 79 patients referred to the Wessex Regional Genetics Laboratory with suspected Russell-Silver Syndrome or unexplained short stature/intra uterine growth restriction, warranting genetic investigation. Methylation status was analysed at target sequences within eleven imprinted loci (PLAGL1, IGF2R, PEG10, MEST1, GRB10, KCNQ1OT1, H19, IGF2P0, DLK1, PEG3, NESPAS). Thirty seven percent (37%) (29 of 79) of samples were shown to have a methylation abnormality. The commonest finding was a loss of methylation at H19 (23 of 29), as previously reported in Russell-Silver Syndrome. In addition, four of these patients had methylation anomalies at other loci, of whom two showed hypomethylation of multiple imprinted loci, and two showed a complete gain of methylation at IGF2R. This latter finding was also present in five other patients who did not have demonstrable changes at H19. In total, 7 of 79 patients showed a gain of methylation at IGF2R and this was significantly different from a normal control population of 267 individuals (P=0.002). This study in patients with growth restriction shows the importance of widening the epigenetic investigation to include multiple imprinted loci and highlights potential involvement of the IGF2R locus.
The published results of breath isoprene studies, to date largely involving adults, are briefly reviewed with special attention given to the work done on this topic during the last 10 years using selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry, SIFT-MS. Then the new data recently obtained on isoprene levels in the exhaled breath of some 200 healthy children and young adults (pupils) with ages ranging from 7 to 18 years measured using SIFT-MS are presented in detail. A concentration distribution has been constructed from the data obtained and compared to that for healthy adults also obtained from SIFT-MS data. Although there is overlap between the two distributions, which are close to log normal in both cases, the median level for the young cohort is much lower at 37 parts-per-billion, pbb, geometric standard deviation, GSD, 2.5, compared to that for the adult cohort of 106 ppb with a GSD of 1.65. Further to this, there is a clear increase in the mean breath isoprene concentration with age for the young cohort with a doubling of the level about every 5-6 years until it reaches the age-invariant mean level of that for adult cohort. Should this trend be extrapolated downwards in age it would indicate a near-zero breath isoprene in the newborn that was indicated by a previous study. Indeed, in the present study isoprene was not detected on the breath of two young children. The results reveal mean breath isoprene levels (±SD) for pupils within the given age ranges as 7-10 years (28 ± 24 ppb), 10-13 years (40 ± 21 ppb), 13-16 years (60 ± 41 ppb) and 16-19 years (54 ± 31 ppb). The more rapid increase that occurs between the second and third age ranges is statistically highly significant (p = 0.001) and we attribute this phenomenon to the onset of puberty and the spurt in growth that occurs during this phase of development. There is no significant difference in mean breath isoprene between males and females for both the adult cohort and the younger cohort.
Conventional wisdom is that breath acetone may be markedly elevated in type 1 diabetes, but that this only occurs during poor blood glucose control and/or intercurrent illness. In contrast, little is known about breath acetone at more representative everyday blood glucose levels in diabetes. We used selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry to monitor the breath of eight patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus during insulin clamp studies in which insulin and glucose were infused into patients to lower blood glucose levels in steps from normal values into the low glucose (hypoglycaemic) range. The concentration of acetone in breath and the blood sugar concentration of the patients were monitored at each blood glucose concentration. The blood glucose level at the start of the study was typically about 6 mM L(-1), whereas the breath acetone concentration at this blood glucose level was unexpectedly variable, ranging from 1 part-per-million to 21 ppm, in contrast to what was previously believed, i.e. that type 1 diabetes mellitus is characterized by high acetone levels. In all eight patients, the breath acetone declined linearly with blood glucose concentration.
The currently accepted gold standard tuberculosis (TB) detection method for veterinary applications is that of culturing from a tissue sample post mortem. The test is accurate, but growing Mycobacterium bovis is difficult and the process can take up to 12 weeks to return a diagnosis. In this paper we evaluate a much faster screening approach based on serum headspace analysis using selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS). SIFT-MS is a rapid, quantitative gas analysis technique, with sample analysis times of as little as a few seconds. Headspace from above serum samples from wild badgers, captured as part of a randomised trial, was analysed. Multivariate classification algorithms were then employed to extract a simple TB diagnosis from the complex multivariate response provided by the SIFT-MS instrument. This is the first time that such multivariate analysis has been applied to SIFT-MS data. An accuracy of TB discrimination of approximately 88% true positive was achieved which shows promise, but the corresponding false positive rate of 38% indicates that there is more work to do before this approach could replace the culture test. Recommendations for future work that could increase the performance are therefore proposed.
Neutrophil chemoattractant interleukin (IL)-8 is cleaved and inactivated by the Streptococcus pyogenes cell envelope protease SpyCEP. A range of clinical S. pyogenes strains of differing emm type demonstrated SpyCEP activity, although transcription of the SpyCEP gene cepA differed 1000-fold between isolates. Disruption of the 2-component regulatory system covR/S in pharyngeal isolates increased cepA transcription 100-fold; this finding is consistent with endogenous CovR/S-mediated repression of cepA being responsible for low SpyCEP expression in some S. pyogenes strains associated with pharyngitis. Among patients with invasive S. pyogenes infection, disease severity and outcome were associated with the SpyCEP activity of the isolate. Lethal invasive isolate H292 (emm81) expressed more cepA than did other tested isolates. This strain carried a unique covR mutation that impaired binding to the cepA promoter. CovR/S sequence comparison in other clinical isolates revealed community-wide dissemination of covS mutations but not covR mutations. The results highlight a potential hazard and underline the importance of continuing molecular epidemiological surveillance for community-wide dissemination of CovR/S mutant hyperinvasive strains.
Currently there is no licensed vaccine against the human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes. The highly conserved IL-8 cleaving S. pyogenes cell envelope proteinase SpyCEP is surface expressed and is a potential vaccine candidate. A recombinant N-terminal part of SpyCEP (CEP) was expressed and purified. AntiCEP antibodies were found to neutralize the IL-8 cleaving activity of SpyCEP. CEP-immunized mice had reduced bacterial dissemination from focal S. pyogenes intramuscular infection and intranasal infection. We also identified a functional SpyCEP-homolog protease SeCEP, expressed by the equine pathogen Streptococcus equi, which was able to cleave both human and equine IL-8. CEP-immunized mice also demonstrated reduced bacterial dissemination from S. equi intramuscular infection. Therefore immunization against SpyCEP may provide protection against other streptococci species with homologous proteases.
Diffuse mesangial sclerosis occurs as an isolated abnormality or as a part of a syndrome. Recently, mutations in phospholipase C epsilon 1 (PLCE1) were found to cause a nonsyndromic, autosomal recessive form of this disease. Here we describe three children from one consanguineous kindred of Pakistani origin with diffuse mesangial sclerosis who presented with congenital or infantile nephrotic syndrome. Homozygous mutations in PLCE1 (also known as KIAA1516, PLCE, or NPHS3) were identified following genome-wide mapping of single-nucleotide polymorphisms. All affected children were homozygous for a four-basepair deletion in exon 3, which created a premature translational stop codon. Analysis of the asymptomatic father of two of the children revealed that he was also homozygous for the same mutation. We conclude this nonpenetrance may be due to compensatory mutations at a second locus and that mutation within PLCE1 is not always sufficient to cause diffuse mesangial sclerosis.
Coal tars have been identified as posing a threat to human health due to their toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic characteristics. Workers involved in former gasholders decommissioning are potentially exposed to relevant concentrations of volatile and semi-volatile hydrocarbons upon opening up derelict tanks and during tar excavation/removal. While information on contaminated sites air-quality and its implications on medium-long term exposure is available, acute exposure issues associated with the execution of critical tasks are less understood. Calculations indicated that the concentration of a given contaminant in the gasholder vapour phase only depends on the coal tar composition, being only barely affected by the presence of water in the gasholder and the tar volume/void space ratio. Fugacity modelling suggested that risk-critical compounds such as benzene, naphthalene and other monocyclic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons may gather in the gasholder air phase at significant concentrations. Gasholder emissions were measured on-site and compared with the workplace exposure limits (WELs) currently in use in UK. While levels for most of the toxic compounds were far lower than WELs, benzene air-concentrations where found to be above the accepted threshold. In addition due to the long exposure periods involved in gasholder decommissioning and the significant contribution given by naphthalene to the total coal tar vapour concentration, the adoption of a WEL for naphthalene may need to be considered to support operators in preventing human health risk at the workplace. The Level I fugacity approach used in this study demonstrated its suitability for applications to sealed environments such as gasholders and its further refining could provide a useful tool for land remediation risk assessors.
Streptococcus pyogenes M/emm3 strains have been epidemiologically linked with enhanced infection severity and risk of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS), a syndrome triggered by superantigenic stimulation of T cells. Comparison of S. pyogenes strains causing STSS demonstrated that emm3 strains were surprisingly less mitogenic than other emm-types (emm1, emm12, emm18, emm28, emm87, emm89) both in vitro and in vivo, indicating poor superantigenic activity. We identified a 13 bp deletion in the superantigen smeZ gene of all emm3 strains tested. The deletion led to a premature stop codon in smeZ, and was not present in other major emm-types tested. Expression of a functional non-M3-smeZ gene successfully enhanced mitogenic activity in emm3 S. pyogenes and also restored mitogenic activity to emm1 and emm89 S. pyogenes strains where the smeZ gene had been disrupted. In contrast, the M3-smeZ gene with the 13 bp deletion could not enhance or restore mitogenicity in any of these S. pyogenes strains, confirming that M3-smeZ is non-functional regardless of strain background. The mutation in M3-smeZ reduced the potential for M3 S. pyogenes to induce cytokines in human tonsil, but not during invasive infection of superantigen-sensitive mice. Notwithstanding epidemiological associations with STSS and disease severity, emm3 strains have inherently poor superantigenicity that is explained by a conserved mutation in smeZ.
Cantú syndrome is characterized by congenital hypertrichosis, distinctive facial features, osteochondrodysplasia and cardiac defects. By using family-based exome sequencing, we identified a de novo mutation in ABCC9. Subsequently, we discovered novel dominant missense mutations in ABCC9 in 14 of the 16 individuals with Cantú syndrome examined. The ABCC9 protein is part of an ATP-dependent potassium (K(ATP)) channel that couples the metabolic state of a cell with its electrical activity. All mutations altered amino acids in or close to the transmembrane domains of ABCC9. Using electrophysiological measurements, we show that mutations in ABCC9 reduce the ATP-mediated potassium channel inhibition, resulting in channel opening. Moreover, similarities between the phenotype of individuals with Cantú syndrome and side effects from the K(ATP) channel agonist minoxidil indicate that the mutations in ABCC9 result in channel opening. Given the availability of ABCC9 antagonists, our findings may have direct implications for the treatment of individuals with Cantú syndrome.
Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) is a system for rating the confidence in estimates of effect and grading guideline recommendations. It promotes evaluation of the quality of the evidence for each outcome and an assessment of balance between desirable and undesirable outcomes leading to a judgment about the strength of the recommendation. In 2007, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence began introducing GRADE across its clinical guideline program to enable separation of judgments about the evidence quality from judgments about the strength of the recommendation.
The relative abundance of different groups of sulphate-reducing bacteria (SRB) in faecal DNA collected before and after therapy from patients suffering from Crohns disease (CD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or ulcerative colitis (UC) has been compared with that from healthy controls. Growth tests revealed that SRB were not more abundant in samples from patients with CD before treatment than in the healthy control group. For most of the 128 samples available, these preliminary results were confirmed using degenerate PCR primers that amplify the dsrAB gene. However, some samples from patients with CD before treatment contained a growth inhibitor that was absent from IBS or UC samples. In-depth sequencing of PCR-generated dsrB fragments revealed that the diversity detected was surprisingly low, with only eight strains of SRB and the sulphite-reducing bacterium, Bilophila wadsworthia, detected above the 0.1% threshold. The proportion of the two major species detected, B. wadsworthia and Desulfovibrio piger, was as high as 93.5% of the total SRB population in the healthy control group and lower in all patient groups. Four previously undescribed species were found: it is impossible to predict whether they are sulphate or sulphite-reducing bacteria.
The need for improved rapid diagnostic tests for tuberculosis disease has prompted interest in the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex bacteria. We have investigated VOCs emitted by Mycobacterium bovis BCG grown on Lowenstein-Jensen media using selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry and thermal desorption-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Compounds observed included dimethyl sulphide, 3-methyl-1-butanol, 2-methyl-1-propanol, butanone, 2-methyl-1-butanol, methyl 2-methylbutanoate, 2-phenylethanol and hydrogen sulphide. Changes in levels of acetaldehyde, methanol and ammonia were also observed. The compounds identified are not unique to M. bovis BCG, and further studies are needed to validate their diagnostic value. Investigations using an ultra-rapid gas chromatograph with a surface acoustic wave sensor (zNose) demonstrated the presence of 2-phenylethanol (PEA) in the headspace of cultures of M. bovis BCG and Mycobacterium smegmatis, when grown on Lowenstein-Jensen supplemented with glycerol. PEA is a reversible inhibitor of DNA synthesis. It is used during selective isolation of gram-positive bacteria and may also be used to inhibit mycobacterial growth. PEA production was observed to be dependent on growth of mycobacteria. Further study is required to elucidate the metabolic pathways involved and assess whether this compound is produced during in vivo growth of mycobacteria.
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