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The establishment of EVISA is funded by the EU through the Fifth Framework Programme (G7RT- CT- 2002- 05112).


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Chemical speciation analysis for the life sciences

(14.04.2014)


Elements of the human body

Figure: Elements of the Human Body

As in other areas, chemical analysis is acting as an information science, providing the data to answer certain questions, such as:
  • Data on the metabolism, i.e. intake, absorption, exchange and excretion of nutrients, minerals and toxicants by biological organisms.
  • Data on the chemistry, bio-chemistry and physiology of exchanged compounds.
  • Data on the bioavailability, bioaccumulation and toxicity of chemicals for plants, animals and humans.

NB!: Such characteristics depends primarily on chemical species not on their elemental composition !

Therefore, with respect to trace elements, trace element analysis does not provide the required information for a deep understanding of biological processes and because of such limitations, its application is often not sufficient in modern research. Despite such lack, trace element analysis is firmly established in routine analysis and therefore widely applied.

The role of trace elements in life science is still sometimes discussed from the elemental  point of view (atomistic) while it is clear that biological  mechanisms are based on molecular aspects.

In this sence some topics often discussed in conferences, monographies and other publications are at least with respect to titles not really supported by meaningful science but mainly by traditions resulting from the history of scientific development.

Such topics with limited scientific background are:
  • Trace metals in human health and nutrition
  • Trace element determination
  • Toxicity of elements
  • Intake recomendations for elements

Especially the role of metals in biological systems can only be studied, when the metals involved are analysed in the form their are present. Such is the main aim of speciation analysis, which therefore plays a fundamental role in the area of metallomics, an integrated research field related to biometals and in symbiosis with genomics and proteomics. Trace element species most often discussed by scientists in this areas are enzymes (Zn), vitamins (Co), metallo-proteins (Se, Fe, Cu, Zn), metallo-drugs (Pt), toxins (As, Hg, Cr(VI), Cd, Pb) and their metabolic forms.

Elemental detection provided by atomic and elemental mass spectrometry can therefore only play the role of a special filter, enhancing the separation of the target elemental species from the overwhelming number of species present in such complex systems. However, trace element detection can only be a part of a multitechnique approach that more and more often has to include high resolution molecular mass spectrometry and other techniques in order to gain insight in the area of metallomics.




Related reviews related to chemical speciation analysis for life science

C.G. Vogiatzis, G.A. Zachariadis, Tandem mass spectrometry in metallomics and the involving role of ICP-MS detection: A review, Anal. Chim. Acta, 819(2014)1–14. doi: 10.1016/j.aca.2014.01.029

Dirk Wesenberg, Gerd-Joachim Krauss, Dirk Schaumlöffel, Metallo-thiolomics: Investigation of thiol peptide regulated metal homeostasis in plants and fungi by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, Int. J. Mass Spectrom., 307 (2011) 46–54. doi: 10.1016/j.ijms.2010.10.026

Sandra Mounicou, Joanna Szpunar, Ryszard Lobinski, Inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry in proteomics, metabolomics and metallomics studies, Eur. J. Mass Spectrom., 16/3 (2010) 243–253. doi: 10.1255/ejms.1059

Yasumitsu Ogra, Toxicometallomics for Research on the Toxicology of Exotic Metalloids Based on Speciation Studies, Anal. Sci., 25 (2009) 1189-1195. doi: 10.2116/analsci.25.1189

A.R. Timerbaev, Capillary electrophoresis coupled to mass spectrometry for biospeciation analysis: critical evaluation, Trends Anal. Chem., 28/4 (2009) 416-425. doi: 10.1016/j.trac.2009.02.001

Richard W. Strange, Martin C. Feiters, Biological X-ray absorption spectroscopy (BioXAS): a valuable tool for the study of trace elements in the life sciences, Curr. Opin. Structural Biol.,  18 (2008) 609–616. DOI: 10.1016/j.sbi.2008.06.002


Related EVISA Resources

Brief summary: Tools for elemental speciation
Brief summary: ICP-MS - A versatile detection system for speciation analysis
Brief summary: LC-ICP-MS - The most often used hyphenated system for speciation analysis
Brief summary: GC-ICP-MS
Brief summary: CE-ICP-MS for speciation analysis
Brief summary: ESI-MS: The tool for the identification of species
Brief summary: Speciation Analysis - Striving for Quality
Brief summary: Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometry as a Detection System for Speciation Analysis

Brief summary: Speciation analysis for the study of metallodrugs and their biomolecular interactions
Brief summary: Speciation analysis for cancer diagnosis

Material Database: Materials for speciation analysis
Material Database: Materials for Arsenic speciation analysis
Material Database: Materials for Mercury speciation analysis
Material Database: Materials for Selenium speciation analysis
Material Database: Materials for Tin speciation analysis




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June 17, 2012: Factors Affecting Methylmercury Accumulation in the Food Chain
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January 8, 2010: The human liver: not always doing the job right?
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last time modified: April 14, 2014



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