Soluble interleukin-2 receptor in exhaled breath condensate in pulmonary sarcoidosis: A cross-sectional pilot study

Dayle L. Terrington, Jee Whang Kim, Garth Ravenhill, Jonathan Tang, Isabelle Piec, Stephen J. Fowler, William Fraser, Andrew M. Wilson

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Introduction: Sarcoidosis is a chronic granulomatous disease of unknown aetiology with a variable clinical course and prognosis. There is an urgent need to identify new and novel biomarkers to help differentiate between clinical phenotypes and guide clinical decisions with respect to commencing and monitoring treatment. Across the spectrum of respiratory disease there has been a growing interest in the role of breath-based biomarkers given their non-invasive nature and ability to repeat sampling with ease for serial monitoring. Soluble interleukin-2 receptor (sIL2R) in bronchoalveolar lavage and serum correlates with disease activity in sarcoidosis, however no previous study has evaluated sIL2R in exhaled breath.

Objectives: The main aim of this cross-sectional case-controlled pilot study was to determine the concentration of sIL2R in exhaled breath condensate (EBC) from patients with recently diagnosed sarcoidosis compared to healthy volunteers and to establish, if present, if this correlated with markers of disease activity, pulmonary function tests and serological markers used in current clinical practice.

Methods: Paired serum and EBC samples were collected from twelve treatment naïve patients with histologically proven sarcoidosis diagnosed during the previous six months and compared to twelve healthy volunteers matched for age and gender.

Results: Mean concentration of serum sIL2R was significantly elevated in participants with sarcoidosis compared to healthy controls (1584.3 ± 489.1 versus 874.2 ± 235.7 pg/mL; p = 0.001). Soluble interleukin-2 receptor in EBC was detectable in only five subjects including three participants with sarcoidosis. The range of sIL2R across all five samples was 148.0 - 288.2 pg/mL with the two highest concentrations observed in two participants with sarcoidosis. There was no significant difference observed in EBC sIL2R between sarcoidosis and healthy controls (p = 0.71). No apparent correlations were observed between EBC sIL2R and radiological stage, pulmonary function tests or serological markers.

Conclusion: Soluble interleukin-2 receptor is detectable in EBC, however the findings from our study do not support its role as a diagnostic marker in sarcoidosis. Further research is required to evaluate its prognostic utility.
Original languageEnglish
Article number016016
JournalJournal of Breath Research
Issue number1
Early online date17 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • breath biomarker
  • exhaled breath condensate
  • sarcoidosis
  • soluble interleukin-2 receptor

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