Chemoresistive Sensors for Cellular Type Discrimination Based on Their Exhalations

Nanomaterials (Basel). 2022 Mar 28;12(7):1111. doi: 10.3390/nano12071111.


The detection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) exhaled by human body fluids is a recent and promising method to reveal tumor formations. In this feasibility study, a patented device, based on nanostructured chemoresistive gas sensors, was employed to explore the gaseous exhalations of tumoral, immortalized, and healthy cell lines, with the aim of distinguishing their VOC patterns. The analysis of the device output to the cell VOCs, emanated at different incubation times and initial plating concentrations, was performed to evaluate the device suitability to identify the cell types and to monitor their growth. The sensors ST25 (based on tin and titanium oxides), STN (based on tin, titanium, and niobium oxides), and TiTaV (based on titanium, tantalum and vanadium oxides) used here, gave progressively increasing responses upon the cell density increase and incubation time; the sensor W11 (based on tungsten oxide) gave instead unreliable responses to all cell lines. All sensors (except for W11) gave large and consistent responses to RKO and HEK293 cells, while they were less responsive to CHO, A549, and CACO-2 ones. The encouraging results presented here, although preliminary, foresee the development of sensor arrays capable of identifying tumor presence and its type.

Keywords: VOCs; cells; chemoresistivity; nanostructures; sensors; tumor.