Volatile metabolic monitoring of glycemic status in diabetes using electronic olfaction

Pamela Dalton, Alan Gelperin, George Preti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The increased incidence of Type I and Type II diabetes among adults and adolescents is a growing public health concern worldwide. The primary objective of diabetes mellitus management involves keeping glycemia levels within the euglycemic range to prevent a variety of serious health complications. Unfortunately, daily self-monitoring is both a requirement and a problem for many patients with diabetes, particularly children and adolescents. Studies have shown that as many as 43% of adolescents and 30% of children (<14 years old) regularly forget to use glycemic tests and are significantly poorer at recognizing and reporting symptoms and signs of hypoglycemia/hyperglycemia. For this reason, methods for noninvasive, continuous monitoring that can signal glycemic status to a parent, teacher, or other caregiver would improve the care and management of symptoms of diabetes among these individuals. The goal of this review is to describe and evaluate electronic olfaction technology ("electronic nose") for monitoring the presence and levels of volatile chemicals from human body and breath that can be used to evaluate status of diabetes. The review is organized in four sections. The first section reviews the chemistry of the volatile signals that are produced by the body that are indicative of metabolic status. The second section provides an overview of novel sensor technology, e.g., "electronic olfaction," that mimics the biological olfactory system and can be used to monitor and identify complex plumes of volatiles that are signatures of metabolic states. The third section reviews studies that have employed electronic "nose" technology for diagnosis and monitoring of diabetes via urine and breath, and the final section discusses needed future directions for the development of olfactory-based metabolic monitoring, particularly among noncompliant populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)534-544
Number of pages11
JournalDiabetes Technology and Therapeutics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medical Laboratory Technology
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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