LA-ICP-MS/MS improves limits of detection in elemental bioimaging of gadolinium deposition originating from MRI contrast agents in skin and brain tissues

J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2019 Jan;51:212-218. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2018.10.021. Epub 2018 Nov 1.


A novel analytical method to detect the retention of gadolinium from contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in tissue samples of patients is presented. It is based on laser ablation - inductively coupled plasma - triple quadrupole - mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS/MS). Both Gd and P were monitored with a mass shift of +16, corresponding to mono-oxygenated species, as well as Zn, Ca, and Fe on-mass. This method resulted in a significantly reduced background and improved limits of detection not only for phosphorus, but also for gadolinium. These improvements were essential to perform elemental bioimaging with improved resolution of 5 μm x 5 μm, allowing the detection of small Gd deposits in fibrotic skin and brain tumour tissue with diameters of approximately 50 μm. Detailed analyses of these regions revealed that most Gd was accompanied with P and Ca, indicating co-precipitation.

Keywords: Gadolinium retention; ICP-MS/MS; LA-ICP-MS; NSF; Quantitative bioimaging.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Contrast Media / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Gadolinium / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy*
  • Limit of Detection*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy / metabolism
  • Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy / pathology
  • Skin / chemistry*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium