E-noses provide potential non-invasive metabolic biomarkers for diagnosing and monitoring pulmonary diseases. The primary aim of the present study was to assess the within-day and between-day repeatability of a modern breath sampling system (Pneumopipe® plus an array of e-nose sensors) in asthmatic and healthy children. The secondary aim was to compare the repeatability of the breath sampling system, spirometry and exhaled nitric oxide (eNO). Fifteen children (age 6-11 years) with asthma and thirty healthy children matched by age and gender (1:2 allocation) were recruited; of them, three healthy children did not complete the study. All measurements were collected twice during the baseline visit, 30 min apart, and once during the final visit, after 7 d. Repeatability was assessed through the intra-cluster correlation coefficient (ICC), and a significance test was performed to detect an at least 'fair' repeatability (ICC > 0.2). In asthmatic children, the within-day (0-30 min) ICCs for e-nose sensors (8 sensors × 4 desorption temperatures) ranged from 0.24 to 0.84 (median 0.57, IQR 0.47-0.71), while the between-day (0-7 d) ICCs ranged from 0.25 to 0.83 (median 0.66, IQR 0.55-0.72). In healthy children, the within-day ICCs for e-nose sensors ranged from 0.29 to 0.85 (median 0.58, IQR 0.49-0.63), while the between-day ICCs ranged from 0.33 to 0.82 (median 0.55, IQR 0.49-0.63). In both groups, most of the within-day and between-day ICCs for e-nose sensors were statistically significant. Moreover, the within-day and between-day ICCs for all spirometry parameters and eNO were significant and similar to those of the most reliable sensors. The modern breath sampling system showed more than acceptable within-day and between-day repeatability, in both asthmatic and healthy children. The present study was registered on the central registration system ClinicalTrials.gov (ID: NCT03025061).
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