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Gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) instruments provide researchers and clinicians with a vast amount of information on sample composition, thus these instruments are seen as gold standard in breath analysis research. However, there are many factors that can confound the data measured by GC-MS instruments. These factors will make interpretation of GC-MS data unreliable for breath analysis research. We present in this paper detailed studies of two of these factors: instrument variation over time and chemical degradation of known biomarkers during storage in sorbent tubes. We found that a single quadrupole MS showed larger variability in measurements than a quadrupole time-of-flight MS when the same mixture of chemical standards was analysed for a period of up to 8 weeks. We recommend procedures of normalising the data. Moreover, the stability studies of breath biomarkers like thioethers, previously found indicative of malaria, showed that there is a need to store the samples in sorbent tubes at low temperature, 6 °C, for no more than 20 days to avoid the total decay of the chemicals.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Journal of chromatography. B, Analytical technologies in the biomedical and life sciences
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