SPLTRAK Abstract Submission
Analytical Identification of Stress Odors from Human Breath
Christopher Maute1, Pamela H. Dalton1, Jason Eades1, Wesley Haskins1, George Preti1, 2
1Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA, United States
2Department of Dermatology, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States

When a stress response is triggered in humans, characteristic physiological changes occur as a result of the increased production of stress-related hormones.  These stress-related hormonal changes create alterations in the salivary flow and composition, which consequently upregulate production of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) notably, volatile sulfur compounds and perhaps oxygenated compounds related to oxidative stress. Thus, we hypothesized that the volatile composition of exhaled breath would be influenced by stress, with important contributions from the oral cavity—a contribution that is often overlooked by investigators examining breath VOCs. To test our hypothesis, we collected breath and saliva samples from human subjects before and after employing the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) to induce psychological stress and analyzed the samples for VOC’s.  Three VOCs were found to be significantly elevated by stress in the breath samples, but not the saliva: acetone, isoprene and dimethylsulfide.  Further, the increases in these breath-born biomarkers seem to rely on different aspects of the stress response, with isoprene and dimethylsulfide being significantly correlated with cortisol levels.