Direct Analysis of Fatty Acid Vapors in Breath by Electrospray Ionization and Atmospheric Pressure Ionization-Mass Spectrometry
P. M-L Sinues, J. F. de la Mora
Real time analysis of human breath is achieved in an atmospheric pressure ionization mass spectrometer (API-MS) by negatively charging exhaled vapors via contact with an electrospray cloud. The spectrum observed is dominated by a wide range of deprotonated fatty acids, including saturated chains up to C14. Above C14, the background from cutaneous sources becomes dominant. We also tentatively identify a series of unsaturated fatty acids (C7-C10), ketomonocarboxylic acids (C6-C10), and a family of aldehydes. The ionization probability of large fatty acids increases drastically when the humidity changes from 20% to 95%. Accordingly, distinguishing lung vapors (humid) from those in the background (dry) requires special precautions. Estimated fatty acid vapor concentrations in breath based on our measurements ( approximately 100 ppt) are in fair agreement with values expected from blood concentrations in the range for which data are available (C3-C6).