Issue 9, 2020

LC-ICP-MS method for the determination of “extractable copper” in serum


Copper is an essential element for biological functions within humans and animals. There are several known diseases associated with Cu deficiency or overload, such as Menkes disease and Wilson disease, respectively. A common clinical method for determining extractable Cu levels in serum, which is thought to be potentially dangerous if in excess, is to subtract the value of tightly incorporated Cu in ceruloplasmin from total serum Cu. In this work, an automated sample preparation and liquid chromatography (LC) system was combined with inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) to determine bound Cu and extractable Cu in serum. This LC-ICP-MS method took 250 s for sample preparation and analysis, followed by a column recondition/system reset, thus, a 6 minute sample-to-sample time including sample preparation. The method was validated using serum collected from either control (Atp7b+/−) or Wilson disease rats (Atp7b−/−). The extractable Cu was found to be 4.0 ± 2.3 μM Cu in healthy control rats, but 2.1 ± 0.6 μM Cu in healthy Wilson rats, and 27 ± 16 μM Cu in diseased Wilson rats, respectively. In addition, the extractable Cu/bound Cu ratio was found to be 6.4 ± 3.5%, 38 ± 29%, and 34 ± 22%, respectively. These results suggest that the developed method could be of diagnostic value for Wilson disease, and possibly other copper related diseases.

Graphical abstract: LC-ICP-MS method for the determination of “extractable copper” in serum

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
04 Jun 2020
05 Aug 2020
First published
05 Aug 2020
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Metallomics, 2020,12, 1348-1355