Investigation of lung cancer biomarkers by hyphenated separation techniques and chemometrics

Clin Chem Lab Med. 2011 Oct 28;50(3):573-81. doi: 10.1515/CCLM.2011.769.


Background: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in breath of lung cancer patients and released by lung cancer cells were determined. As a reference sample breath collected from healthy volunteers and lung segments of cells with proper morphology were used.

Methods: Solid phase microextraction and gas chromato-graphy mass spectrometry (SPME-GC/MS) method was applied for VOC analysis. Statistical methods have been developed to find similarities between patterns of investigated compounds within three populations of samples: exhaled air samples from patients with lung cancer, headspace of lung tissues with healthy and cancer cells.

Results: Quantitative analysis of VOCs in the headspace of lung tissues revealed that cancer cells released higher concentrations of ethanol, acetone, carbon disulfide, dimethyl sulfide, 1-propanol, 2-propanol, 2-butanone and 2-pentanone than healthy tissues. The increase of concentration of the same compounds was observed in the breath of patients with lung cancer in comparison to breath from healthy non-smoking volunteers.

Conclusions: Detection of lung cancer is possible by volatile biomarkers analysis in breath.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / isolation & purification
  • Breath Tests
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Exhalation
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Informatics / methods*
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemistry*
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Solid Phase Microextraction / methods*
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis*
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / isolation & purification


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Volatile Organic Compounds