Measurement of 24-h continuous human CH4 release in a whole room indirect calorimeter

E. A. Carnero, C. P. Bock, Y. Liu, K. Corbin, E. Wohlers-Kariesch, K. Ruud, J. Moon, A. Marcus, R. Krajmalnik-Brown, A. Muraviev, K. L. Vodopyanov, S. R. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We describe the technology and validation of a new whole room indirect calorimeter (WRIC) methodology to quantify volume of methane (VCH4) released from the human body over 24 h concurrently with the assessment of energy expenditure and substrate utilization. The new system extends the assessment of energy metabolism by adding CH4, a downstream product of microbiome fermentation that could contribute to energy balance. Our new system consists of an established WRIC combined with the addition of off-axis integrated-cavity output spectroscopy (OA-ICOS) to measure CH4 concentration ([CH4]). Development, validation, and reliability of the system included environmental experiments to measure the stability of the atmospheric [CH4], infusing CH4 into the WRIC and human cross-validation studies comparing [CH4] quantified by OA-ICOS and mid-infrared dual-comb spectroscopy (MIR DCS).Our infusion data indicated that the system measured 24-h [CH4] and VCH4 with high sensitivity, reliability, and validity. Cross-validation studies showed good agreement between OA-ICOS and MIR DCS technologies (r = 0.979, P < 0.0001). Human data revealed 24-h VCH4 was highly variable between subjects and within/between days. Finally, our method to quantify VCH4 released by breath or colon suggested that over 50% of the CH4 was eliminated through the breath. The method allows, for the first time, measurement of 24-h VCH4 (in kcal) and therefore the measurement of the proportion of human energy intake fermented to CH4 by the gut microbiome and released via breath or from the intestine; also, it allows us to track the effects of dietary, probiotic, bacterial, and fecal microbiota transplantation on VCH4. NEW & NOTEWORTHY This is the first time that continuous assessment of CH4 is reported in parallel with measurements of O2 consumption and CO2 production inside a whole room indirect calorimeter in humans and over 24 h. We provide a detailed description of the whole system and its parts. We carried out studies of reliability and validity of the whole system and its parts. CH4 is released in humans during daily activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)766-776
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • gas infusion
  • reliability
  • spectroscopy
  • validation
  • whole room indirect calorimeter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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