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Comprehensive Analysis of Volatile Biomarkers for Female Fertility

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One out of ten women has a difficult time getting or staying pregnant in the United States. Recent studies have identified aging as one of the key factors attributed to

One out of ten women has a difficult time getting or staying pregnant in the United States. Recent studies have identified aging as one of the key factors attributed to a decline in female reproductive health. Existing fertility diagnostic methods do not allow for the non-invasive monitoring of hormone levels across time. In recent years, olfactory sensing has emerged as a promising diagnostic tool for its potential for real-time, non-invasive monitoring. This technology has been proven promising in the areas of oncology, diabetes, and neurological disorders. Little work, however, has addressed the use of olfactory sensing with respect to female fertility. In this work, we perform a study on ten healthy female subjects to determine the volatile signature in biological samples across 28 days, correlating to fertility hormones. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in the air above the biological sample, or headspace, were collected by solid phase microextraction (SPME), using a 50/30 µm divinylbenzene/carboxen/polydimethylsiloxane (DVB/CAR/PDMS) coated fiber. Samples were analyzed, using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-TOFMS). A regression model was used to identify key analytes, corresponding to the fertility hormones estrogen and progesterone. Results indicate shifts in volatile signatures in biological samples across the 28 days, relevant to hormonal changes. Further work includes evaluating metabolic changes in volatile hormone expression as an early indicator of declining fertility, so women may one day be able to monitor their reproductive health in real-time as they age.

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  • 2018