Allergic asthma exhaled breath metabolome: a challenge for comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography

J Chromatogr A. 2012 Sep 7;1254:87-97. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2012.07.023. Epub 2012 Jul 16.


Allergic asthma represents an important public health issue, most common in the paediatric population, characterized by airway inflammation that may lead to changes in volatiles secreted via the lungs. Thus, exhaled breath has potential to be a matrix with relevant metabolomic information to characterize this disease. Progress in biochemistry, health sciences and related areas depends on instrumental advances, and a high throughput and sensitive equipment such as comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography-time of flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-ToFMS) was considered. GC×GC-ToFMS application in the analysis of the exhaled breath of 32 children with allergic asthma, from which 10 had also allergic rhinitis, and 27 control children allowed the identification of several hundreds of compounds belonging to different chemical families. Multivariate analysis, using Partial Least Squares-Discriminant Analysis in tandem with Monte Carlo Cross Validation was performed to assess the predictive power and to help the interpretation of recovered compounds possibly linked to oxidative stress, inflammation processes or other cellular processes that may characterize asthma. The results suggest that the model is robust, considering the high classification rate, sensitivity, and specificity. A pattern of six compounds belonging to the alkanes characterized the asthmatic population: nonane, 2,2,4,6,6-pentamethylheptane, decane, 3,6-dimethyldecane, dodecane, and tetradecane. To explore future clinical applications, and considering the future role of molecular-based methodologies, a compound set was established to rapid access of information from exhaled breath, reducing the time of data processing, and thus, becoming more expedite method for the clinical purposes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alkanes / analysis
  • Asthma / metabolism*
  • Breath Tests / methods*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolome
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Solid Phase Extraction
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / analysis


  • Alkanes
  • Volatile Organic Compounds