Gas chromatography with mass spectrometric detection combined with head-space needle trap extraction as the pre-concentration technique was applied to identify and quantify volatile organic compounds released or metabolised by human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Amongst the consumed species there were eight aldehydes (2-methyl 2-propenal, 2-methyl propanal, 2-methyl butanal, 3-methyl butanal, n-hexanal, benzaldehyde, n-octanal and n-nonanal) and n-butyl acetate. Further eight compounds (ethyl acetate, ethyl propanoate, ethyl butyrate, 3-heptanone, 2-octanone, 2-nonanone, 2-methyl-5-(methylthio)-furan and toluene) were found to be emitted by the cells under study. Possible metabolic pathways leading to the uptake and release of these compounds by HUVEC are proposed and discussed. The uptake of aldehydes by endothelial cells questions the reliability of species from this chemical class as breath or blood markers of disease processes in human organism. The analysis of volatiles released or emitted by cell lines is shown to have a potential for the identification and assessment of enzymes activities and expression.
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