Ethane in the exhalate of type II diabetic subjects and controls

T. C. Vincent, M. P. Habib, K. L. Richards, D. Burrows

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diabetics may produce increased amounts of free radicals which are thought to lead to the complications seen in this disease. Exhaled ethane is a marker of lipid peroxidation of cell membranes by free radicals. We measured exhaled ethane in an attempt to determine if diabetics have increased free radical production. Eleven nonsmoking type II diabetics and eleven age and sex matched nonsmoking controls were studied. Two minutes of exhalate was collected in mylar bags after subjects breathed ethane-free air for 8 minutes. Ethane was concentrated on cold charcoal and then analysed by gas chromatography against a known standard. A medical history of diabetic complications was also performed. Blood glucose and HgbA1c values were determined just prior to ethane measurement. Using a paired t test, there was no difference in exhaled ethane between diabetics, 1.83 ± 0.25 pmoles/min/kg (mean ± standard error), and controls, 2.46 ± 0.72 pmoles/min/kg, p=.32. An additional 7 diabetic subjects were studied in the same manner as above and added to the 11 original diabetics. In this group of 18 diabetics there were no significant correlations between ethane levels and glucose values, HgbA1c values or the presence of complications. These results may indicate that diabetics do not have increased free radicals, that increased free radical production is matched by upregulation of quenching systems or that ethane measurement is not sensitive enough to detect differences in this group of subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85A
JournalJournal of Investigative Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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