The production of volatile compounds from cancer cell lines in vitro has been investigated using selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS). This technique enables on-line quantitative analyses of the headspace above cell/medium cultures. This paper reports the discovery that acetaldehyde is released by the lung cancer cell lines SK-MES and CALU-1. The concentration of acetaldehyde in the headspace of the medium/cell culture was measured after 16 h incubation at 37 degrees C and found to be proportional to the number of cancer cells in the medium (typically 10(8)). From these data, the acetaldehyde production rates of the SK-MES cells and the CALU-1 cells in vitro are determined to be 1 x 10(6) and 1.5-3 x 10(6) molecules/cell/min, respectively. The potential value of this new technique in cell biology and in industrial cell biotechnology is discussed.
Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.