Breath isoprene: Temporal changes in respiratory output after exposure to ozone

W. Michael Foster, Long Jiang, Pamela T. Stetkiewicz, Terence H. Risby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Isoprene is a major hydrocarbon found in human breath. This study was conducted to evaluate whether respiratory isoprene output could serve as a monitor for ozone exposure. Healthy young adult subjects (n = 10) underwent chamber exposure on separate days to filtered air and to a variable concentration of ozone. Exposures had durations of 130 min that included alternate periods of rest and light treadmill exercise; breath was sampled pre- and postexposure. For six subjects, breath was resampled 19 ± 1 h postexposure. Breath samples were concentrated cryogenically and analyzed by capillary gas chromatography. Isoprene output immediately postexposure was significantly reduced by ozone or filtered air (17 and 19%, respectively). These results suggest that exercise alone reduces isoprene levels in breath without an additive ozone effect. However, in the six subjects restudied 19 ± 1 h postexposure to ozone, breath isoprene concentrations were now increased above the preexposure output by 99% (P < 0.01) and exceeded the 51% increase in output of isoprene at this time point after filtered-air exposure (P < 0.01). Therefore, breath isoprene is proposed as a noninvasive marker of a physiological response to oxidant-induced injury to epithelial membranes and fluid linings of the lower respiratory tract by ozone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-710
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1996


  • sterol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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