Use of accelerator mass spectrometry for studies in nutrition

Nutr Res Rev. 2001 Dec;14(2):317-34. doi: 10.1079/NRR200129.


Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) is an ultrasensitive analytical technique for measuring rare nuclides such as 14C, 26Al and 41Ca. The low detection limit and wide dynamic range of AMS allow long-term and highly sensitive tracer studies in nutrition that cannot be performed with other methods. The present paper is intended to provide a description of AMS to the interested nutritionist and present proven applications. AMS is compared to liquid scintillation counting and stable isotope MS. A description of common AMS methodology is presented that consists of determining the dose, preparing the sample, diluting the sample (if necessary), and measuring the sample. Applications include Ca metabolism, Al uptake from the environment, dietary intake of carcinogens, fat meta-bolism and folate metabolism. Throughout this discussion the experimental advantages (small doses that pose no health risk, extremely long experimental lifetime, small sample sizes and high sensitivity) made possible by the unique analytical capabilities of AMS are emphasized. The future of AMS is discussed. As the number of AMS centres, instruments, and studies increases, the number of nutritional applications that employ AMS will continue to grow. The coupling of AMS with other analytical techniques (e.g. high performance liquid chromatography) will be developed as access to AMS improves.