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Anal Chem. 2017 Oct 3;89(19):10578-10584. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b02843. Epub 2017 Sep 22.

Noninvasive Body Fat Burn Monitoring from Exhaled Acetone with Si-doped WO3-sensing Nanoparticles.

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Particle Technology Laboratory, Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich , CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland.
Department of Pulmonology, University Hospital Zürich , CH-8091 Zürich, Switzerland.


Obesity is a global health threat on the rise, and its prevalence continues to grow. Yet suitable biomedical sensors to monitor body fat burn rates in situ, to guide physical activity or dietary interventions toward efficient weight loss, are missing. Here, we introduce a compact and inexpensive breath acetone sensor based on Si-doped WO3 nanoparticles that can accurately follow body fat burn rates in real time. We tested this sensor on 20 volunteers during exercise and rest and measured their individual breath acetone concentrations in good agreement with benchtop proton transfer reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometry (PTR-TOF-MS). During exercise, this sensor reveals clearly the onset and progression of increasing breath acetone levels that indicate intensified body fat metabolism, as validated by parallel venous blood β-hydroxybutyrate (BOHB) measurements. Most importantly, we found that the body fat metabolism was especially pronounced for most volunteers during fasting for 3 h after exercise, with strong variation between subjects, and this was displayed correctly by the sensor in real-time. As a result, this simple breath acetone sensor enables easily applicable and hand-held body fat burn monitoring for personalized and immediate feedback on workout effectiveness that can guide dieting as well.

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