Omega-oxidation is a fatty acid degradation pathway that can occur alternatively to the dominant b-oxidation. The dysregulation of fatty acid oxidation has been related with a variety of diseases, termed fatty acid oxidation disorders. This work shows evidence for real-time detection in exhaled breath of the complete series of saturated linear w-hydroxyalkanoic acids, w-oxoalkanoic acids and alkanedioic acids with carbon chain lengths of 5-15.
We present a comprehensive analytical workflow using on-line and subsequent off-line methods: secondary electrospray ionization mass spectrometry of exhaled breath and UHPLC-HRMS/MS experiments using exhaled breath condensate, respectively. By analyzing on-line breath measurements of 146 healthy individuals, we were able to obtain strong evidence for the correlation of these metabolite families. This enabled us to monitor the full b-oxidation pathway in human exhaled breath. We could unambiguously identify these compounds, many of which have never been reported in breath so far. This comprehensive study on breath metabolites reinforces the notion of breath as a valuable source of information, which is underexploited in metabolomics.