Biochemical Methanol Gas Sensor (MeOH Bio-Sniffer) for Non-Invasive Assessment of Intestinal Flora from Breath Methanol

Sensors (Basel). 2021 Jul 19;21(14):4897. doi: 10.3390/s21144897.


Methanol (MeOH) in exhaled breath has potential for non-invasive assessment of intestinal flora. In this study, we have developed a biochemical gas sensor (bio-sniffer) for MeOH in the gas phase using fluorometry and a cascade reaction with two enzymes, alcohol oxidase (AOD) and formaldehyde dehydrogenase (FALDH). In the cascade reaction, oxidation of MeOH was initially catalyzed by AOD to produce formaldehyde, and then this formaldehyde was successively oxidized via FALDH catalysis together with reduction of oxidized form of β-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). As a result of the cascade reaction, reduced form of NAD (NADH) was produced, and MeOH vapor was measured by detecting autofluorescence of NADH. In the development of the MeOH bio-sniffer, three conditions were optimized: selecting a suitable FALDH for better discrimination of MeOH from ethanol in the cascade reaction; buffer pH that maximizes the cascade reaction; and materials and methods to prevent leaking of NAD+ solution from an AOD-FALDH membrane. The dynamic range of the constructed MeOH bio-sniffer was 0.32-20 ppm, which encompassed the MeOH concentration in exhaled breath of healthy people. The measurement of exhaled breath of a healthy subject showed a similar sensorgram to the standard MeOH vapor. These results suggest that the MeOH bio-sniffer exploiting the cascade reaction will become a powerful tool for the non-invasive intestinal flora testing.

Keywords: enzymatic cascade reaction; fluorescence; gas-phase biosensor; intestinal flora; methanol.

MeSH terms

  • Biosensing Techniques*
  • Breath Tests
  • Formaldehyde
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Methanol


  • Formaldehyde
  • Methanol