Validation of a Metallomics Analysis of Placenta Tissue by Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry

Biol Trace Elem Res. 2016 Feb;169(2):164-73. doi: 10.1007/s12011-015-0431-3. Epub 2015 Jul 9.


Trace elements can play an important role in maternal health and fetal development, and deficiencies in some essential minerals including zinc and copper have been correlated in some individuals to the development of birth defects and adverse health outcomes later in life. The exact etiology of conditions like preeclampsia and the effects of fetal exposure to toxic metals has not been determined, making the assessment of trace element levels crucial to the elucidation of the causes of conditions like preeclampsia. Previous studies analyzing serum and placenta tissue have produced conflicting findings, suggesting the need for a robust, validated sample preparation and analysis method for the determination of trace elements in placenta. In this report, an acid digestion method and analysis by ICP-MS for a broad metallomics/mineralomics panel of trace elements is developed and validated over three experimental days for inter- and intraday precision and accuracy, linear range, matrix impact, and dilution verification. Spike recovery experiments were performed for the essential elements chromium (Cr), iron (Fe), cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), and zinc (Zn), and the toxic elements arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), and lead (Pb) at levels equal to and in excess of native concentrations in control placenta tissue. The validated method will be essential for the development of scientific studies of maternal health and toxic metal exposure effects in childhood.

Keywords: ICP-MS; Metallomics; Placenta; Preeclampsia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis*
  • Placenta / chemistry*
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic / methods*
  • Trace Elements / analysis*


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Trace Elements