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J Breath Res. 2014 Oct 13;8(4):046003. doi: 10.1088/1752-7155/8/4/046003.

Quantitative analysis of volatile organic compounds released and consumed by rat L6 skeletal muscle cells in vitro.

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Breath Research Institute of the University of Innsbruck, Rathausplatz 4, A-6850 Dornbirn, Austria.


Knowledge of the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by cells provides important information on the origin of VOCs in exhaled breath. Muscle cells are particularly important, since their release of volatiles during the exertion of an effort contributes considerably to breath concentration profiles. Presently, the cultivation of human skeletal muscle cells is encountering a number of obstacles, necessitating the use of animal muscle cells in in vitro studies. Rat L6 skeletal muscle cells are therefore commonly used as a model for studying the molecular mechanisms of human skeletal muscle differentiation and functions, and facilitate the study of the origin and metabolic fate of the endogenously produced compounds observed in breath and skin emanations. Within this study the production and uptake of VOCs by rat L6 skeletal muscle cells were investigated using gas chromatography with mass spectrometric detection, combined with head-space needle trap extraction as the pre-concentration technique (HS-NTE-GC-MS). Seven compounds were found to be produced, whereas sixteen species were consumed (Wilcoxon signed-rank test, p < 0.05) by the cells being studied. The set of released volatiles included two ketones (2-pentanone and 2-nonanone), two volatile sulphur compounds (dimethyl sulfide and methyl 5-methyl-2-furyl sulphide), and three hydrocarbons (2-methyl 1-propene, n-pentane and isoprene). Of the metabolized species there were thirteen aldehydes (2-propenal, 2-methyl 2-propenal, 2-methyl propanal, 2-butenal, 2-methyl butanal, 3-methyl butanal, n-pentanal, 2-methyl 2-butenal, n-hexanal, benzaldehyde, n-octanal, n-nonanal and n-decanal), two esters (n-propyl propionate and n-butyl acetate), and one volatile sulphur compound (dimethyl disulfide). The possible metabolic pathways leading to the uptake and release of these compounds by L6 cells are proposed and discussed. An analysis of the VOCs showed them to have huge potential for the identification and monitoring of some molecular mechanism and conditions.

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