Polyatomics in zinc isotope ratio analysis of plasma samples by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry and applicability of nonextracted samples for zinc kinetics

V. M. Sadagopa Ramanujam, K. Yokoi, N. G. Egger, H. H. Dayal, N. W. Alcock, H. H. Sandstead

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18 Scopus citations


Inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is a powerful tool for both quantitative multielement analyses of inorganic elements and measurement of isotope ratios (IRs). The main disadvantage of this technique is the existence of polyatomic isobaric interferences at some key masses. Zinc has been investigated for such potential interferences in serum or plasma. The Zn isotopes, 66Zn and 68Zn, have no apparent interferences, but 32S16O2 and 32S2 are isobaric with 64Zn. The possible effects of S and other major components of blood plasma - Na, K, Cl, P, Ca - on Zn IRs were investigated using a series of mineral solutions which simulated human plasma with respect to these elements. The mixture of all mineral elements interfered only with 64Zn (6.66 ng/mL) and 70Zn (8.51 ng/mL). Interferences to 66Zn, 67Zn, and 68Zn were minimal containing 0.90, 0.94, and 0.39 ng/mL, respectively. The copresence of Na or S shifted 35Cl16O2 (atomic mass 67 coming from Cl solution) to 35Cl2 which reduced the contribution to 67Zn. The hypothesis that Zn IRs obtained from plasma at various intervals after the intravenous administration of enriched 67Zn to humans would reflect those obtained after extraction of Zn was therefore tested. To compare the two pretreatment methods, 'extraction' versus 'nonextraction,' specimens were collected from 10 human subjects at intervals of 5 min to 24 h postinjection, and in 4 subjects from 5 min to 9 d postinjection. Two separate aliquots of plasma from each time-point were dried and digested with hydrogen peroxide, and the residue dissolved in nitric acid. One specimen was subjected to zinc extraction using ammonium diethyldithiocarbamate chelate followed by back extraction into nitric acid. The matching aliquot received no further pretreatment. The normalized IRs obtained from 67Zn/66Zn and 67Zn/68Zn in both the 'extracted' and 'nonextracted' samples agreed well (r2 = 0.976 and r2 = 0.985, respectively) compared to those from other ratios (r2 = 0.838 for 67Zn/64Zn and r2 = 0.747 for 67Zn/70Zn). Considering the minimum possibility of isobaric interferences in plasma samples, 67Zn/68Zn obtained from 'nonextracted' samples is sufficient for routine Zn kinetic analysis by ICP-MS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-158
Number of pages16
JournalBiological Trace Element Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Enriched Zn isotope
  • Exchangeable Zn pool (EZP)
  • Extraction, nonextraction
  • Inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS)
  • Isotope ratios (IRs)
  • Zn kinetics
  • Zn turnover rate (TR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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