Volatilomes of human infection

Shane Fitzgerald, Linda Holland, Waqar Ahmed, Birgit Piechulla, Stephen J Fowler, Aoife Morrin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The human volatilome comprises a vast mixture of volatile emissions produced by the human body and its microbiomes. Following infection, the human volatilome undergoes significant shifts, and presents a unique medium for non-invasive biomarker discovery. In this review, we examine how the onset of infection impacts the production of volatile metabolites that reflects dysbiosis by pathogenic microbes. We describe key analytical workflows applied across both microbial and clinical volatilomics and emphasize the value in linking microbial studies to clinical investigations to robustly elucidate the metabolic species and pathways leading to the observed volatile signatures. We review the current state of the art across microbial and clinical volatilomics, outlining common objectives and successes of microbial-clinical volatilomic workflows. Finally, we propose key challenges, as well as our perspectives on emerging opportunities for developing clinically useful and targeted workflows that could significantly enhance and expedite current practices in infection diagnosis and monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-53
Number of pages17
JournalAnalytical and bioanalytical chemistry
Issue number1
Early online date16 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • Clinical
  • Gas chromatography
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Metabolic pathways
  • Microbial volatiles


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