Breath carbonyl levels in a human population of seven hundred participants

Mitchell M. McCartney, Carina J. Thompson, Lauren R. Klein, Josephine H. Ngo, Jacqueline D. Seibel, Fauna Fabia, Leslie A. Simms, Eva Borras, Brian S. Young, Juven Lara, Michael W. Turnlund, Anh P. Nguyen, Nicholas J. Kenyon, Cristina E. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Oxidative stress is associated with numerous health conditions and disorders, and aldehydes are known biomarkers of oxidative stress that can be non-invasively measured in exhaled human breath. Few studies report breath aldehyde levels in human populations, and none claim participant numbers in the hundreds or more. Further, the breath community must first define the existing aldehyde concentration variance in a normal population to understand when these levels are significantly perturbed by exogenous stressors or health conditions. In this study, we collected breath samples from 692 participants and quantified C4-C10 straight chain aldehyde levels. C9 aldehyde was the most abundant in breath, followed by C6. C4 and C5 appear to have bimodal distributions. Post hoc, we mined our dataset for other breath carbonyls captured by our assay, which involves elution of breath samples onto a solid phase extraction cartridge, derivatization and liquid chromatography-quadrupole time of flight mass spectrometry (LC-qTOF). We found a total of 21 additional derivatized compounds. Using self-reported demographic factors from our participants, we found no correlation between these breath carbonyls and age, gender, body mass index (BMI), ethnicity or smoking habit (tobacco and marijuana). This work was preceded by a small confounders study, which was intended to refine our breath collection procedure. We found that breath aldehyde levels can be affected by participants' using scented hygiene products such as lotions and mouthwashes, while collecting consecutive breath samples, rinsing the mouth with water, and filtering inspired air did not have an effect. Using these parameters to guide our sampling, subjects were instructed to avoid the prior conditions to provide a breath sample for our study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number046005
JournalJournal of breath research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • aldehydes
  • carbonyls
  • exhaled breath
  • human population study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Breath carbonyl levels in a human population of seven hundred participants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this