Speciation of trace elements in human serum by micro anion exchange chromatography coupled with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry
Malavolta, M.; Piacenza, F.; Basso, A.; Giacconi, R.; Costarelli, L.; Pierpaoli, S.; Mocchegiani, E.
Analytical Biochemistry 421(1): 16-25
Speciation analysis of essential trace elements in human serum provides important information on nutritional status and homeostatic mechanisms regulating transport processes, acute phase reactions, and protection against oxidative damage. Anion exchange high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) combined with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) has proved to be a useful tool in speciation. Here we describe a fast method that can be applied to carry out the speciation of Fe, Cu, Zn, and Se in as little as 1 microl [corrected] of serum. The method employs monolithic anion exchange micro columns installed on a tandem HPLC system coupled on-line with an ICP-MS detector. The chromatographic separation is similar to those reported previously but with considerable gain in terms of time and sample requirement. Reproducibility is acceptable for most species. Using our method, we were able to find species-specific differences between different commercially available trace element reference materials. Because the method chosen to collect blood might interfere with speciation, the proposed methodology was used to compare heparinized plasma, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) plasma, and serum from adult healthy volunteers. As expected, EDTA strongly affects speciation analysis (especially for Fe and Zn), whereas changes due to the use of lithium-heparin (Li-He) as anticoagulant appear to be minimized.