Evaluation of Digestion Methods for Analysis of Trace Metals in Mammalian Tissues and NIST 1577c

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ICP-OES, Pancreatic cancer, Trace metals, Digestion method, NIST 1577c, ICP-MS

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Digestion techniques for ICP analysis have been poorly studied for biological samples. This report describes an optimized method for analysis of trace metals that can be used across a variety of sample types. Digestion methods were tested and optimized with the analysis of trace metals in cancerous as compared to normal tissue as the end goal. Anthropological, forensic, oncological and environmental research groups can employ this method reasonably cheaply and safely whilst still being able to compare between laboratories. We examined combined HNO3 and H2O2 digestion at 170 °C for human, porcine and bovine samples whether they are frozen, fresh or lyophilized powder. Little discrepancy is found between microwave digestion and PFA Teflon pressure vessels. The elements of interest (Cu, Zn, Fe and Ni) yielded consistently higher and more accurate values on standard reference material than samples heated to 75 °C or samples that utilized HNO3 alone. Use of H2SO4 does not improve homogeneity of the sample and lowers precision during ICP analysis. High temperature digestions (>165 °C) using a combination of HNO3 and H2O2 as outlined are proposed as a standard technique for all mammalian tissues, specifically, human tissues and yield greater than 300% higher values than samples digested at 75 °C regardless of the acid or acid combinations used. The proposed standardized technique is designed to accurately quantify potential discrepancies in metal loads between cancerous and healthy tissues and applies to numerous tissue studies requiring quick, effective and safe digestions.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Analytical Biochemistry, v. 543, p. 37-42