The aim of this study was to confirm the existence of volatile organic compounds (VOC) specifically released or consumed by the lung cancer cell line A549, which could be used in future screens as biomarkers for the early detection of lung cancer. For comparison, primary human bronchial epithelial cells (HBEpC) and human fibroblasts (hFB) were included. VOCs were detected in the headspace of cell cultures or medium controls following adsorption on solid sorbents, thermodesorption, and analysis by gas chromatography mass spectrometry. Using this approach, we identified VOCs that behaved similarly in normal and transformed cells. Thus, concentrations of 2-pentanone and 2,4-dimethyl-1-heptene were found to increase in the headspace of A549, HBEpC, and hFB cell cultures. In addition, the ethers methyl tert-butyl ether and ethyl tert-butyl ether could be detected at elevated levels in the case of A549 cells and one of the untransformed cell lines. However, especially branched hydrocarbons and alcohols were seen increased more frequently in untransformed than A549 cells. A big variety of predominantly aldehydes and the ester n-butyl acetate were found at decreased concentrations in the headspace of all cell lines tested compared with medium controls. Again, more different aldehydes were found to be decreased in hFB and HBEpC cells compared with A549 cells and 2-butenal was metabolized exclusively by both control cell lines. These data suggest that certain groups of VOCs may be preferentially associated with the transformed phenotype. ©2010 AACR.
Filipiak, W., Sponring, A., Filipiak, A., Ager, C., Schubert, J., Miekisch, W., … Troppmair, J. (2010). TD-GC-MS analysis of volatile metabolites of human lung cancer and normal cells in vitro. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, 19(1), 182–195. https://doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-09-0162