Leukotrienes (LTs), including cysteinyl-LTs (LTC4, LTD4 and LTE4) and LTB4, are potent inflammatory lipid mediators which have been involved in the pathophysiology of respiratory diseases. LC-MS/MS techniques for measuring LT concentrations in sputum supernatants, serum, urine and exhaled breath condensate (EBC) have been developed. In asthmatic adults, reported LTB4 and LTE4 concentrations in sputum range from 79 to 7220pg/ml and from 11.9 to 891pg/ml, respectively. Data on sputum LT concentrations in healthy subjects are not available. In EBC, reported LTE4 concentrations range from 38 to 126pg/ml (95% CI) in adult asthma patients and from 34 to 48pg/ml in healthy subjects. LTB4 concentrations in EBC range from 175 to 315pg/ml (interquartile range) in asthmatic children, and from 25 to 245pg/ml in healthy children. Enabling an accurate quantitative assessment of LTs in biological fluids, LC-MS/MS techniques provide a valuable tool for exploring the pathophysiological role of LTs in respiratory disease and might be useful for assessing the effects of therapeutic intervention. This review presents the analytical aspects of the LC-MS/MS techniques for measuring LT concentrations in biological fluids and discusses their potential utility for the assessment of airway inflammation and monitoring of pharmacological treatment in patients with asthma phenotypes and other respiratory diseases.
- Airway inflammation
- Exhaled breath condensate
- Liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry
- Respiratory medicine