Beta-Lactam Antibiotics Can Be Measured in the Exhaled Breath Condensate in Mechanically Ventilated Patients: A Pilot Study

José Escalona, Dagoberto Soto, Vanessa Oviedo, Elizabeth Rivas, Nicolás Severino, Eduardo Kattan, Max Andresen, Sebastián Bravo, Roque Basoalto, María Consuelo Bachmann, Kwok Yin Wong, Nicolás Pavez, Alejandro Bruhn, Guillermo Bugedo, Jaime Retamal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Different techniques have been proposed to measure antibiotic levels within the lung parenchyma; however, their use is limited because they are invasive and associated with adverse effects. We explore whether beta-lactam antibiotics could be measured in exhaled breath condensate collected from heat and moisture exchange filters (HMEFs) and correlated with the concentration of antibiotics measured from bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). We designed an observational study in patients undergoing mechanical ventilation, which required a BAL to confirm or discard the diagnosis of pneumonia. We measured and correlated the concentration of beta-lactam antibiotics in plasma, epithelial lining fluid (ELF), and exhaled breath condensate collected from HMEFs. We studied 12 patients, and we detected the presence of antibiotics in plasma, ELF, and HMEFs from every patient studied. The concentrations of antibiotics were very heterogeneous over the population studied. The mean antibiotic concentration was 293.5 (715) ng/mL in plasma, 12.3 (31) ng/mL in ELF, and 0.5 (0.9) ng/mL in HMEF. We found no significant correlation between the concentration of antibiotics in plasma and ELF (R2 = 0.02, p = 0.64), between plasma and HMEF (R2 = 0.02, p = 0.63), or between ELF and HMEF (R2 = 0.02, p = 0.66). We conclude that beta-lactam antibiotics can be detected and measured from the exhaled breath condensate accumulated in the HMEF from mechanically ventilated patients. However, no correlations were observed between the antibiotic concentrations in HMEF with either plasma or ELF.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1146
JournalJournal of Personalized Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • antibiotics
  • exhaled breath condensate
  • heat and moisture exchange filter
  • HMEF
  • mechanical ventilation
  • pneumonia


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