Quantification of liver iron overload disease with laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry

BMC Med Imaging. 2018 Dec 4;18(1):51. doi: 10.1186/s12880-018-0291-3.


Background: Hereditary hemochromatosis is the most frequent, identified, genetic disorder in Caucasians affecting about 1 in 1000 people of Northern European ancestry, where the associated genetic defect (homozygosity for the p.Cys282Tyr polymorphism in the HFE gene) has a prevalence of approximately 1:200. The disorder is characterized by excess iron stores in the body. Due to the incomplete disease penetrance of disease-associated genotype, genetic testing and accurate quantification of hepatic iron content by histological grading of stainable iron, quantitative chemical determination of iron, or imaging procedures are important in the evaluation and staging of hereditary hemochromatosis.

Methods: We here established novel laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry protocols for hepatic metal bio-imaging for diagnosis of iron overload.

Results: We demonstrate that these protocols are a significant asset in the diagnosis of iron overload allowing iron measurements and simultaneous determination of various other metals and metalloids with high sensitivity, spatial resolution, and quantification ability.

Conclusions: The simultaneous measurement of various metals and metalloids offers unique opportunities for deeper understanding of metal imbalances. Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) is a highly powerful and sensitive technique for the analysis of a variety of solid samples with high spatial resolution. We conclude that this method is an important add-on to routine diagnosis of iron overload and associated hepatic metal dysbalances resulting thereof.

Keywords: Diagnostic; HFE; Hemochromatosis; Iron; Iron overload; Liver; Mass spectrometry; Metal; Molecular imaging; Mutation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Hemochromatosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Hemochromatosis / genetics
  • Humans
  • Image-Guided Biopsy
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Iron Overload / diagnostic imaging*
  • Iron Overload / genetics
  • Lasers*
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic*