2,5-Dimethylfuran as a Validated Biomarker of Smoking Status

Introduction Exposure biomarkers are required in tobacco use studies to accurately assess smoking status since self-reporting usually results in misclassification estimates. This study uses breath analysis and assesses some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as potential biomarkers of tobacco smoke exposure. Methods Forced-expiratory breath samples were obtained from 377 volunteers (174 smokers and 203 nonsmokers). Exhaled breath levels of different VOCs previously related to tobacco smoke were evaluated. The toluene-to-benzene ratio was evaluated as this ratio has been found to be different in atmospheric samples and tobacco smoke emissions. Finally, breath analyses from 64 patients attending a clinical practice were evaluated and the results were compared to their self-reporting status. Results Univariate analysis shows that all compounds evaluated gave significant differences (p < .001). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves suggest that xylenes and toluene are not able to accurately determine smoking status, and benzene and the T/B ratio present potential utility in certain conditions. The highest discriminant capacity was obtained for 2,5-dimethylfuran (AUC = 0.982, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.969-0.995), with a cut-off value of 0.016 ppbv (sensibility = 0.965, specificity = 0.896). Drinking coffee was the only confounding parameter that can give low breath levels for this compound. The evaluation of the results obtained from the patients attending a clinical practice showed that 8% of people who claim to be nonsmokers hid their real smoking status. Conclusions The results obtained confirm that the determination of 2,5-dimethylfuran in breath samples is a good and simpler alternative to conventional blood or urine tests for assessing smoking status ​
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