Breath acetone-aspects of normal physiology related to age and gender as determined in a PTR-MS study.J Breath Res. 2009 Jun; 3(2):027003.JB
The present study was performed to determine the variations of breath acetone concentrations with age, gender and body-mass index (BMI). Previous investigations were based on a relatively small cohort of subjects (see Turner et al 2006 Physiol. Meas. 27 321-37). Since exhaled breath analysis is affected by considerable variation, larger studies are needed to get reliable information about the correlation of concentrations of volatiles in breath when compared with age, gender and BMI. Mixed expiratory exhaled breath was sampled using Tedlar bags. The concentrations of a mass-to-charge ratio (m/z) of 59, attributed to acetone, were then determined using proton transfer reaction-mass spectrometry. Our cohort, consisting of 243 adult volunteers not suffering from diabetes, was divided into two groups: one that fasted overnight prior to sampling (215 volunteers) and the other without a dietary control (28 volunteers). In addition, we considered a group of 44 healthy children (5-11 years old).The fasted subjects' concentrations of acetone ranged from 177 ppb to 2441 ppb, with an overall geometric mean (GM) of 628 ppb; in the group without a dietary control, the subjects' concentrations ranged from 281 ppb to 1246 ppb with an overall GM of 544 ppb. We found no statistically significant shift between the distributions of acetone levels in the breath of males and females in the fasted group (the Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney test yielded p = 0.0923, the medians being 652 ppb and 587 ppb). Similarly, there did not seem to be a difference between the acetone levels of males and females in the group without a dietary control. Aging was associated with a slight increase of acetone in the fasted females; in males the increase was not statistically significant. Compared with the adults (a merged group), our group of children (5-11 years old) showed lower concentrations of acetone (p < 0.001), with a median of 263 ppb. No correlation was found between the acetone levels and BMI in adults. Our results extend those of Turner et al's (2006 Physiol. Meas. 27 321-37), who analyzed the breath of 30 volunteers (without a dietary control) by selected ion flow tube-mass spectrometry. They reported a positive correlation with age (but without statistical significance in their cohort, with p = 0.82 for males and p = 0.45 for females), and, unlike us, arrived at a p-value of 0.02 for the separation of males and females with respect to acetone concentrations. Our median acetone concentration for children (5-11 years) coincides with the median acetone concentration of young adults (17-19 years) reported by Spanel et al (2007 J. Breath Res. 1 026001).