A review of the potential applications and controversies of non-invasive testing for biomarkers of aspiration in the lung transplant population

C S Davis, J Gagermeier, D Dilling, C Alex, E Lowery, E J Kovacs, R B Love, P M Fisichella
Clinical Transplantation 2010, 24 (3): E54-61
Despite improvements in one-yr survival following lung transplantation, five-yr survival lags significantly behind the transplantation of other solid organs. The contrast in survival persists despite advancements in anti-rejection regimens, suggesting a non-alloimmune mechanism to chronic lung transplant failure. Notably, markers of aspiration have been demonstrated in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid concurrent with bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS). This recent evidence has underscored gastroesophageal reflux (GER) and its associated aspiration risk as a non-alloimmune mechanism of chronic lung transplant failure. Given the suggested safety and efficacy of laparoscopic anti-reflux procedures in the lung transplant population, identifying those at risk for aspiration is of prime importance, especially concerning the potential for long-term improvements in morbidity and mortality. Conventional diagnostic methods for GER and aspiration, such as pH monitoring and detecting pepsin and bile salts in BAL fluid, have gaps in their effectiveness. Therefore, we review the applications and controversies of a non-invasive method of defining reflux injury in the lung transplant population: the detection of biomarkers of aspiration in the exhaled breath condensate. Only by means of assay standardization and directed collaboration may such a non-invasive method be a realization in lung transplantation.

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