Document Type




First Advisor's Name

Kenneth Furton

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

John Berry

Third Advisor's Name

David Chatfield

Fourth Advisor's Name

Nadja Schreiber Compo

Fifth Advisor's Name

Stefan Rose


forensic, human scent, biomarkers, VOC, solid phase microextraction, GC-MS, biological specimens

Date of Defense



There is limited scientific knowledge on the composition of human odor from different biological specimens and the effect that physiological and psychological health conditions could have on them. There is currently no direct comparison of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emanating from different biological specimens collected from healthy individuals as well as individuals with certain diagnosed medical conditions. Therefore the question of matching VOCs present in human odor across various biological samples and across health statuses remains unanswered. The main purpose of this study was to use analytical instrumental methods to compare the VOCs from different biological specimens from the same individual and to compare the populations evaluated in this project. The goals of this study were to utilize headspace solid-phase microextraction gas chromatography mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC/MS) to evaluate its potential for profiling VOCs from specimens collected using standard forensic and medical methods over three different populations: healthy group with no diagnosed medical or psychological condition, one group with diagnosed type 2 diabetes, and one group with diagnosed major depressive disorder. The pre-treatment methods of collection materials developed for the study allowed for the removal of targeted VOCs from the sampling kits prior to sampling, extraction and analysis. Optimized SPME-GC/MS conditions has been demonstrated to be capable of sampling, identifying and differentiating the VOCs present in the five biological specimens collected from different subjects and yielded excellent detection limits for the VOCs from buccal swab, breath, blood, and urine with average limits of detection of 8.3 ng. Visual, Spearman rank correlation, and PCA comparisons of the most abundant and frequent VOCs from each specimen demonstrated that each specimen has characteristic VOCs that allow them to be differentiated for both healthy and diseased individuals. Preliminary comparisons of VOC profiles of healthy individuals, patients with type 2 diabetes, and patients with major depressive disorder revealed compounds that could be used as potential biomarkers to differentiate between healthy and diseased individuals. Finally, a human biological specimen compound database has been created compiling the volatile compounds present in the emanations of human hand odor, oral fluids, breath, blood, and urine.





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