Determination of patterns of biologically relevant aldehydes in exhaled breath condensate of healthy subjects by liquid chromatography/atmospheric chemical ionization tandem mass spectrometry

Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2003;17(7):637-45. doi: 10.1002/rcm.960.


A method for the simultaneous determination of several classes of aldehydes in exhaled breath condensate (EBC) was developed using liquid chromatography/atmospheric pressure chemical ionization tandem mass spectrometry (LC/APCI-MS/MS). EBC is a biological matrix obtained by a relatively new, simple and noninvasive technique and provides an indirect assessment of pulmonary status. The measurement of aldehydes in EBC represents a biomarker of the effect of oxidative stress caused by smoke, disease, or strong oxidants like ozone. Malondialdehyde (MDA), acrolein, alpha,beta-unsaturated hydroxylated aldehydes [namely 4-hydroxyhexenal (4-HHE) and 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE)], and saturated aldehydes (n-hexanal, n-heptanal and n-nonanal) were measured in EBC after derivatization with 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine (DNPH). Atmospheric pressure chemical ionization of the analytes was obtained in positive-ion mode for MDA, and in negative-ion mode for acrolein, 4-HHE, 4-HNE, and saturated aldehydes. DNPH derivatives were separated on a C18 column using variable proportions of 20 mM aqueous acetic acid and methanol. Linearity was established over 4-5 orders of magnitude and limits of detection were in the 0.3-1.0 nM range. Intra-day and inter-day precision were in the 1.3-9.9% range for all the compounds. MDA, acrolein and n-alkanals were detectable in all EBC samples, whereas the highly reactive 4-HHE and 4-HNE were found in only a few samples. Statistically significant higher concentrations of MDA, acrolein and n-hexanal were found in EBC from smokers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pressure
  • Aldehydes / analysis*
  • Aldehydes / chemistry*
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biomarkers / chemistry
  • Breath Tests*
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Health
  • Humans
  • Hydrazines / analysis
  • Hydrazines / chemistry
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Molecular Structure
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Ozone
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Smoke


  • Aldehydes
  • Biomarkers
  • Hydrazines
  • Smoke
  • dinitrophenylhydrazine
  • Ozone