Oxidative stress (OS) can be defined as an imbalance between antioxidant systems and various pro-oxidants. This loss of balance is closely associated with initiation and development of a wide range of systemic or organ specific diseases.
Exhaled breath of healthy humans contains a large number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) derived from cellular metabolism, released by microorganisms or taken up from the environment. Qualitative or quantitative changes in their composition are associated with diseases and various pathological conditions, also characterized by increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as superoxide radical, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl anion, peroxinitrite, etc. Several volatile organic compounds such as ethane and pentane are direct end-products of the reaction of ROS with various biological compounds (e.g., lipid peroxidation, DNA or protein damage). Being able to accurately identify ROS-generated VOCs could be of particular importance in devising sensitive tests that can diagnose and follow-up oxidative stress-related diseases.
This review describes current knowledge on the associations between oxidative stress and free radicals and the release of several marker volatile organic compounds in a number of diseases. A special focus will be placed on such VOCs in the cardiovascular pathologies, pulmonary diseases and gastro-intestinal tract affections.
 Agapiou A, Mochalski P, Schmid A, Amann A. Potential applications of volatile organic compounds in safety and security, In: Amann A, Smith D, (Eds.). Volatile Biomarkers: Non-invasive Diagnosis in Physiology and Medicine, Elsevier, Amsterdam, 2013.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.