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ACS Omega. 2018 May 31;3(5):5131-5140. doi: 10.1021/acsomega.7b02035. Epub 2018 May 10.

Detection of Lung Cancer: Concomitant Volatile Organic Compounds and Metabolomic Profiling of Six Cancer Cell Lines of Different Histological Origins.

Jia Z1,2, Zhang H3, Ong CN3,4, Patra A1,2, Lu Y4, Lim CT2,5,3, Venkatesan T1,2,6,7,8.

Author information

NUSNNI-Nanocore, National University of Singapore, 5A Engineering Drive 1, 117411, Singapore.
NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering, National University of Singapore, 28 Medical Drive, 117456, Singapore.
NUS Environmental Research Institute and Mechanobiology Institute, National University of Singapore, 5A Engineering Drive 1, 117411, Singapore.
Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, 12 Science Drive 2, 117549, Singapore.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, National University of Singapore, 9 Engineering Drive 1, 117575, Singapore.
Department of Electrical Engineering, National University of Singapore, 4 Engineering Drive 3, 117583, Singapore.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, National University of Singapore, 9 Engineering Drive 1, 117574, Singapore.
Department of Physics, National University of Singapore, 2 Science Drive 3, 117551, Singapore.


In recent years, there has been an extensive search for a non-invasive screening technique for early detection of lung cancer. Volatile organic compound (VOC) analysis in exhaled breath is one such promising technique. This approach is based on the fact that tumor growth is accompanied by unique oncogenesis, leading to detectable changes in VOC emitting profile. Here, we conducted a comprehensive profiling of VOCs and metabolites from six different lung cancer cell lines and one normal lung cell line using mass spectrometry. The concomitant VOCs and metabolite profiling allowed significant discrimination between lung cancer and normal cell, nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC), as well as between different subtypes of NSCLC. It was found that a combination of benzaldehyde, 2-ethylhexanol, and 2,4-decadien-1-ol could serve as potential volatile biomarkers for lung cancer. A detailed correlation between nonvolatile metabolites and VOCs can demonstrate possible biochemical pathways for VOC production by the cancer cells, thus enabling further optimization of VOCs as biomarkers. These findings could eventually lead to noninvasive early detection of lung cancer and differential diagnosis of lung cancer subtypes, thus revolutionizing lung cancer treatment.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no competing financial interest.

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