Investigation of Volatile Organic Compounds Emitted from Faeces for the Diagnosis of Giardiasis

Bond, Ashley; Vernon, April; Reade, Sophie; Mayor, Arno; Minetti, Corrado; Wastling, Jonathan; Lamden, Kenneth and Probert, Chris (2015). Investigation of Volatile Organic Compounds Emitted from Faeces for the Diagnosis of Giardiasis. Journal of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases, 24(3) pp. 281–286.



Background: Giardiasis is a common intestinal infection caused by the flagellated intestinal protozoan Giardia duodenalis. Several methods are available for the laboratory diagnosis of Giardia, ranging from the microscopic identification of the parasite trophozoite and cyst stages, to immunodiagnosis and PCR. Giardia has unique metabolic pathways resulting from its lack of mitochondria, making it an ideal target for volatile organic compound (VOC) profiling.

Aim: To characterise the VOC profile of stool infected with Giardia to detect differences from those found in samples of diarrhoea without Giardia or other infections.

Method: Stool was obtained from patients with confirmed Giardia infection and controls with diarrhoea but no identifiable infection. Faecal headspace gas extraction and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry were used to extract and identify VOCs.

Results: More than 100 VOCs were identified when control and Giardia groups were combined, of which 24 showed significant differences between the two groups (p<0.05). Three VOCs had a significantly greater prevalence amongst Giardia cases (p<0.0001) and 9 VOCs showed a significant difference in terms of abundance (p<0.05). AUROC analysis demonstrated a value of 0.902.

Conclusion: There is a significant difference in the VOC profile of stool from subjects infected with Giardia spp, when compared with non-infected controls. These findings can be explained by the unique metabolism of Giardia.

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