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Metals (Metallomics)


Metals are crucial components in chemistry and in living organisms. Until now, up to twenty-eight metals have been regarded as beneficial or essential components, regulating a great number of physiological processes and maintaining the homeostasis in living organisms. Actually, about one-third of all proteins require metal ions acting as cofactors for appropriate function. For example, copper acting as a cofactor in many redox enzymes such as cytochrome c oxidase, which exert an effect on respiratory electron transport chain of mitochondria. Another example is that selenium often incorporated into antioxidant enzymes like selenocysteine and exerts its function in host oxidative defense.

However, most of the known metals and metalloids, essential metals included if not well regulated, are of potent toxicity to living organisms. Either deficiency or surplus of metals will be harmful and cause a range of human disorders. For example, iron deficiency can lead to iron deficiency anemia, while calcium deficiency can deplete calcium stores in the bones and increase risk for osteoporosis. Increased levels of metals such as copper, zinc and iron are usually found in metal-containing deposits in many neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. These metals play a crucial role in the formation of reactive oxygen species and the aggregation of antibody peptides. Metal ion regulation can even be implemented at rather low concentration. For example, zinc concentrations inside cells are strictly regulated at the pmol to fmol level. At the same time, the oxidation state of a metal or metalloid determines whether it’s pathologically toxic or physiologically required. A well-known example is chromium. Chromium (III) is the beneficial form required in trace amounts for lipid and glucose metabolism, while chromium (VI) is the most toxic form regarded as a carcinogen.

Metallomics is considered a branch of metabolomics and defined as the comprehensive analysis of the entirety of metal and metalloid species within a cell or tissue type. Metallomics is an interdisciplinary area complementary to genomics and proteomics. By combining analytical, inorganic and biochemical studies together, metallomics tries to elucidate the metal uptake, trafficking, accumulation and metabolism in many basic and complex biological processes, with the ultimate goal to clarify the beneficial or toxic effects of a given metal or metalloid on human health and further understand the molecular mechanisms.

Common metallomics techniques include atomic absorption spectrometry (AA), inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry SXRF. Because of low interferences, extremely high sensitivity of parts-per-trillion and wide range of concentrations, ICP-MS has been established as the most reliable technique for quantification of metals and metalloids in a wide range of biological samples. Recently, ICP-MS has extended its application with technical improvements of spectral interference removal and increased reproducibility. Creative Proteomics has established a robust, reproducible and highly sensitive ICP-MS platform enables the virtually simultaneous quantification of multiple metals and isotopes in the same tissue sample in a limited time, which allows for the simultaneous monitoring of multiple metal-dependent physiological processes such as coupled and secondary ion transport.


  • ICP-MS


  • Identification and quantification of metals by ICP-MS

Sample Requirement

  • Normal Volume: 200ul plasma, 200 mg tissue, 2e7 cells, 200mg protein
  • Minimal Volume: 50ul plasma, 50 mg tissue, 5e6 cells, 50 mg protein


  • A detailed technical report will be provided at the end of the whole project, including the experiment procedure, MS/MS instrument parameters.
  • Analytes are reported as uM or ug/mg (tissue), and CV's are generally <10%.
  • The name of the analytes, abbreviation, formula, molecular weight and CAS# would also be included in the report.

Metals Quantified in This Service

With integrated set of separation, characterization, identification and quantification systems featured with excellent robustness & reproducibility, high and ultra-sensitivity, Creative Proteomics provides reliable, rapid and cost-effective metals targeted metabolomics services.

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