Comparative analyses of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from patients, tumors and transformed cell lines for the validation of lung cancer-derived breath markers


Breath analysis for the purpose of non-invasive diagnosis of lung cancer has yielded numerous candidate compounds with still questionable clinical relevance. To arrive at suitable volatile organic compounds our approach combined the analysis of different sources: isolated tumor samples compared to healthy lung tissues, and exhaled breath from lung cancer patients and healthy controls. Candidate compounds were further compared to substances previously identified in the comparison of transformed and normal lung epithelial cell lines. For human studies, a breath sampling device was developed enabling automated and CO2-controlled collection of the end-tidal air. All samples were first preconcentrated on multibed sorption tubes and analyzed with gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Significantly (p < 0.05) higher concentrations in all three types of cancer samples studied were observed for ethanol and n-octane. Additional metabolites (inter alia 2-methylpentane, n-hexane) significantly released by lung cancer cells were observed at higher levels in cancer lung tissues and breath samples (compared to respective healthy controls) with statistical significance (p < 0.05) only in breath samples. The results obtained confirmed the cancer-related origin of volatile metabolites, e.g. ethanol and octane that were both detected at significantly (p < 0.05) elevated concentrations in all three kinds of cancer samples studied. This work is an important step towards identification of volatile breath markers of lung cancer through the demonstration of cancer-related origin of certain volatile metabolites.

Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (8)
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