Biochemical and biophysical research communications

Breath isoprene: muscle dystrophy patients support the concept of a pool of isoprene in the periphery of the human body.

PMID 22683640


Breath isoprene accounts for most of the hydrocarbon removal via exhalation and is thought to serve as a non-invasive indicator for assaying several metabolic effects in the human body. The primary objective of this paper is to introduce a novel working hypothesis with respect to the endogenous source of this compound in humans: the idea that muscle tissue acts as an extrahepatic production site of substantial amounts of isoprene. This new perspective has its roots in quantitative modeling studies of breath isoprene dynamics under exercise conditions and is further investigated here by presenting pilot data from a small cohort of late stage Duchenne muscle dystrophy patients (median age 21, 4 male, 1 female). For these prototypic test subjects isoprene concentrations in end-tidal breath and peripheral venous blood range between 0.09-0.47 and 0.11-0.72 nmol/l, respectively, amounting to a reduction by a factor of 8 and more as compared to established nominal levels in normal healthy adults. While it remains unclear whether isoprene can be ascribed a direct physiological mechanism of action, some indications are given as to why isoprene production might have evolved in muscle.