Despite its potential importance for understanding perturbations in the Fe–Cu homeostatic pathways, the natural isotopic variability of these metals in the human body remains unexplored. We measured the Fe, Cu, and Zn isotope compositions of total blood, serum, and red blood cells of ∼50 young blood donors by multiple-collector ICP-MS after separation and purification by anion exchange chromatography. Zinc shows much less overall isotopic variability than Fe and Cu, which indicates that isotope fractionation depends more on redox conditions than on ligand coordination. On average, Fe in erythrocytes is isotopically light with respect to serum, whereas Cu is heavy. Iron and Cu isotope compositions clearly separate erythrocytes of men and women. Fe and Cu from B-type men erythrocytes are visibly more fractionated than all the other blood types. Isotope compositions provide an original method for evaluating metal mass balance and homeostasis. Natural isotope variability shows that the current models of Fe and Cu erythropoiesis violate mass balance requirements. It unveils unsuspected major pathways for Fe, with erythropoietic production of isotopically heavy ferritin and hemosiderin, and for Cu, with isotopically light Cu being largely channeled into blood and lymphatic circulation rather than into superoxide dismutase-laden erythrocytes. Iron isotopes provide an intrinsic measuring rod of the erythropoietic yield, while Cu isotopes seem to gauge the relative activity of erythropoiesis and lymphatics.
You have access to this article
Please wait while we load your content...
Something went wrong. Try again?