J. Phys. IV France 139 (2006) 269-294
Elemental speciation analysis, from environmental to biochemical challengeP. Jitaru1, 2 and C. Barbante2, 3
1 University "Al. I. Cuza" of Iasi, Faculty of Chemistry, Department of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, 11 Carol I Blvd., 700506 Iasi, Romania
2 Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes (CNR), Dorsoduro 2137, 30123 Venice, Italy
3 University of Venice Ca' Foscari, Department of Environmental Sciences, Dorsoduro 2137, 30123 Venice, Italy
(Published online: 9 January 2007)
Information regarding the distribution of metallic/metalloid chemical species in biological compartments is required for understanding their biochemical impact on living organisms. To obtain such information implies the use of a dedicated measurement approach, namely speciation analysis. The current trend in (elemental) speciation analysis regards bioinorganic applications. New analytical methodologies are therefore necessary for identification, detection and characterization of metal(loids) complexed or incorporated into biomolecules. The established element-speciation approaches developed for the determination of low molecular mass metal(loid) species (e.g. organometallic compounds) in environmental, food, toxicological and health sciences are presently being adapted for the determination of high molecular mass metal-species, generally related to biological processes. This is one of the newest approaches in terms of element speciation and is called metallomics; this concept refers to the totality of metal species in a cell and covers the inorganic element content and the ensemble of its complexes with biomolecules, particularly proteins, participating in the organisms' response to beneficial or harmful conditions. Compared to conventional elemental speciation analysis, the approach applied to bioinorganic analysis is challenging, particularly given the difficulties in identification/characterization of the organic (e.g. protein) content of such species. In addition, quantification is not feasible with the conventional approaches, which led to the exploitation of the unique feature of (post-column) online isotope dilution-mass spectrometry for species quantification in metallomics.
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