Correlation between breath ammonia and blood urea nitrogen levels in chronic kidney disease and dialysis patients

Chang Chiang Chen, Ju Chun Hsieh, Cheng Han Chao, Wei Shun Yang, Hui Teng Cheng, Chieh Kai Chan, Chia Jung Lu, Hsin Fei Meng, Hsiao Wen Zan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have shown that breath ammonia (breath-NH3) concentration is associated with blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels. However, interindividual variations in breath-NH3 concentrations were observed. Thus, the present study aimed to assess the effect of oral cavity conditions on breath-NH3 concentration and to validate whether the measurement of breath-NH3 concentration is feasible in clinical settings. A total of 125 individuals, including patients with stage 3 to 5 chronic kidney disease (CKD3-5), those on dialysis, and healthy participants, were recruited. A nanostructured sensor was used to detect breath-NH3 concentrations. Pre-and post-gargling as well as pre-and post-hemodialysis (HD) breath-NH3, salivary pH, and salivary urea levels were measured. Breath-NH3, salivary urea, salivary pH, and BUN levels were positively correlated to each other. Breath-NH3 concentrations were associated with BUN levels (r = 0.43, p < 0.001) and were significantly higher in CKD3-5 (p < 0.005) and dialysis patients (p < 0.001) than in healthy participants. Higher correlation coefficients were noted between breath-NH3 concentrations and BUN levels during follow-up (r = 0.59-0.94, p < 0.05). When the cutoff value of breath-NH3 was set at 523.65 ppb, its sensitivity and specificity in predicting CKD (BUN level >24 mg dl-1) were 87.6% and 80.9%, respectively. Breath-NH3 concentrations decreased after HD (p < 0.001) and immediately after gargling (p < 0.01). Breath-NH3 concentration, which was affected by gargling, was correlated to BUN level. The measurement of breath-NH3 concentration using the nanostructured device may be used as a tool for CKD detection and personalized point-of-care for CKD and dialysis patients. The current study had a small sample size. Thus, further studies with a larger cohort must be conducted to validate the effect of oral factors on breath-NH3 concentration and to validate the benefit of breath-NH3 measurement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number036002
JournalJournal of Breath Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Jul


  • blood urea nitrogen
  • breath ammonia
  • chronic kidney disease
  • dialysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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