What can the breath matrix reveal about human health

Problem Title

What can the breath matrix reveal about human health

Scientific Title

Analyzing Neurotransmitters and Hormones within the Human Breath Matrix through Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS)

Student: 
Megan Brady
Major(s): 
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
iCons Concentration: 
Biomedicine
iCons Class Year: 
Class of 2017
Executive Summary 

The exhaled breath matrix provides a rich source of endogenous volatile compounds and metabolites that represent strong diagnostic potential in the areas of human disease. The isolation of the alveolar portion of the breath provides the most accurate representation of the compounds and biomarkers present in the body systemically. The alveoli represent the barrier between the blood and the lungs, and the transport of specific molecules through this barrier may be of critical importance in the diagnosis of disease. (Almstrand, 2010). Hormones and neurotransmitters that are substrates of organic anionic or cationic transporters in the apical or basolateral membranes of the lung hold the potential to be visible in exhaled breath. Collection of the alveolar portion of human breath through a developed sampling technique will result in a sample rich in endogenous substrates and will contain hormones and neurotransmitters. The sampling technique involves a glass tube containing a solution of water and ethanol, responsible for trapping the substrates in the breath sample. This sample will then be analyzed through Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS), specifically using a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer. This bioanalysis has the potential for the extensive application to human health and disease diagnosis, and represents a non-invasive mechanism for the collection of a bodily sample and holds the possibility to become an accurate method of evaluation for hormone and neurotransmitter levels, a mechanism that could have significant implications on disease diagnosis.