Identification of volatile biomarkers of Giardia duodenalis infection in children with persistent diarrhoea

  • C. Ubeda
  • E. Lepe-Balsalobre
  • C. Ariza-Astolfi
  • J. M. Ubeda-OntiverosEmail author
Protozoology - Original Paper


Currently, chronic diarrhoea syndrome in children is a very common pathology whose aetiology is sometimes difficult to identify. Methodologies for the diagnosis of infections have diversified, and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) is a very useful tool. The aim of this study was to identify volatile biomarkers of the presence of Giardia duodenalis in the faeces of patients with chronic diarrhoea (with and without giardiasis) using static headspace extraction followed by GC/MS. The analysis of the volatiles extracted from the headspace had enough sensitivity to detect differences in the volatile profiles in the faeces of the patients with and without Giardia duodenalis infection and discriminate between them. Dimethyl disulphide and trisulphide were found in the faeces of patients without giardiasis but not in the faeces of patients with G. duodenalis. Finally, three possible biomarkers, acetic acid, 1,4-dimethoxy-2,3-butanediol and 1,3-dimethoxy-2-propanol, were proposed to identify patients with giardiasis; these compounds were not present in the patients without the parasite. Multivariate analysis revealed that principal component 1 separated the stool samples according to the presence of infection by G. duodenalis despite the inter-individual variability in biological specimens such as faeces.


Biomarkers Volatile compounds Giardia duodenalis Gas chromatography Chronic diarrhoea Persistent diarrhoea 



The authors are grateful to Hospital Universitario Virgen de Valme for providing the samples for this study and also thank to the Mass Spectrometry Services (CITIUS) for their continuous assistance.

Compliance with ethical standards

The experiment was approved by the committee: Comité de ética de investigación de Sevilla Sur del Hospital Universitario de Valme (No. 1569-M1-17).

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study (parents of patients).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Ciencias Biomédicas, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad Autónoma de ChileProvidenciaChile
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, Faculty of PharmacyUniversity of SevilleSevilleSpain

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