To understand the pathways of Al transport in human body it is necessary to identify and quantify Al species present in human serum. It has been demonstrated that about 90% of Al in human serum corresponds to high molecular mass species (HMM-Al) and that Al is bound exclusively to transferrin (Tf). The remaining Al exists in low molecular mass species (LMM-Al) bound predominantly to Al-citrate. In studies of the efficiencies of the chelation therapies and to perform kinetic studies of Al binding to Tf, rapid and reliable analytical procedures are required. Therefore, a new analytical procedure for the efficient, reliable and fast separation of proteins from LMM compounds in serum was developed by the use of a HiTrap desalting size exclusion column. Unspiked and spiked human serum that was left for six hours to reach approximately thermodynamic equilibrium were studied. The separation of HMM-Al from LMM-Al species was accomplished with tris-HCl buffer (pH 7.4) in 10 min. Al elution profile was followed by ICP-MS detection. In the first 5 min HMM-Al compounds were eluted, followed by the elution of LMM-Al species from 5 to 10 min. Results demonstrated that about 94% of Al was present in the HMM (protein) fraction. To prove the reliability of the fractionation procedure developed, the protein peak and LMM separated species were collected in 5 mL fractions, followed by the previously developed speciation procedures. Speciation of the protein peak by CIM® DEAE-ICP-MS verified that about 98% of Al was bound to Tf. In the LMM serum fraction Al-citrate was separated on the FPLC column coupled to ICP-MS. Speciation data confirmed the reliability of the developed fast fractionation procedure. It represents a promising tool for investigations of kinetics of Al binding to Tf and may also be applied in studies of the efficiencies of the chelation therapies in patients overloaded with Al.
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