State of the art

The use of individual Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) as biomarkers of exposure or disease is hampered by the fact that using a single compound is generally insufficient to monitor complex and heterogeneous processes including environmental exposures or chronic diseases.

Therefore, exploring the presence and relations of exhaled VOCs, called the volatome, is expected to generate more adequate information regarding the processes involved. Certainly, analysing the volatome implies a more specific discrimination between various conditions as it reflects changes in both exogenous and endogenous compounds.

One technique that allows for the detection of the volatome is gas chromatography-deep ultraviolet spectroscopy (GC-DUV). It has been used both for the assessment of environmental factors as well as for individual VOCs.


  • Miekisch W, Schubert JK, Noeldge-Schomburg GF. Diagnostic potential of breath analysis – focus on volatile organic compounds. Clin Chim Acta 2004;347:25–39.
  • Cope KA, Watson MT, Foster WM, Sehnert SS, Risby TH. Effects of ventilation on the collection of exhaled breath in humans. J Appl Physiol 2004;(96):1371–9.
  • Schubert JK, Miekisch W, Geiger K, Noldge-Schomburg GF. Breath analysis in critically ill patients: potential and limitations. Expert Rev Mol Diagn 2004;4:619–29.
  • Buszewski B, Kesy M, Ligor T, Amann A. Human exhaled air analytics: biomarkers of diseases. Biomed Chromatogr 2007;21:553–66.
  • Phillips M. Method for the collection and assay of volatile organic compounds in breath. Anal Biochem 1997;247:272–8.
  • Van Berkel JJ, Dallinga JW, Moller GM, Godschalk RW, Moonen E, Wouters EF,Van Schooten FJ. Development of accurate classification method based on the analysis of volatile organic compounds from human exhaled air. J Chromatogr B 2008;2008(861):101–7.
  • Hatzinikolaou DG, Lagesson V, Stavridou AJ, Pouli AE, Lagesson-Andrasko L, Stavrides JC. Analysis of the gas phase of cigarette smoke by gas chromatography coupled with UV-diode array detection. Anal Chem 2006;78(13):4509–16.