Methodology for the Study of Metabolism: Breath Testing

  • Peter D. Klein
  • Hans Helge


The breath test based on the use of 13C-labeled substrate offers the pediatric gastroenanterologist and other physicians interested in metabolism, an important metabolic and diagnostic tool. Because they are nonradioactive as well as noninvasive, they may be used safely in children in all stages of development, including the preterm neonate. The substrate is administered orally in most applications, and the breath samples required for isotopic determination can be collected from either an awake or sleeping subject. The 13C breath test is characterized by the administration of a substrate in which a small labeled functional group is attached by a target bond. When an appropriate enzyme cleaves this bond, the functional group is released and rapidly metabolized to labeled CO2, which can be detected in breath samples from the subject. Breath tests are conventionally divided into two categories: the endolytic test, which reflects organ targeted enzyme function, and the xenolytic test, which reflects enzyme activity of gastric or intestinal organisms.


Breath Test Breath Sample Urea Breath Test Maple Syrup Urine Disease Acid Breath Test 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter D. Klein
  • Hans Helge

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