Helmholtz Centre Potsdam
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
Abstract (EDOC: 12119)
Mass-dependent variations in isotopic composition are known since decades for the light elements such as hydrogen, carbon or oxygen. Multicollector-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS) and double-spike thermal ionization mass spectrometry (TIMS) permit us now to resolve small variations in isotopic composition even for the heavier elements such as iron. Recent studies on the iron isotopic composition of human blood and dietary iron sources have shown that lighter iron isotopes are enriched along the food chain and that each individual bears a certain iron isotopic signature in blood. To make use of this finding in biomedical research, underlying mechanisms of isotope fractionation by the human body need to be understood. In this paper available iron isotope data for biological samples are discussed within the context of isotope fractionation concepts and fundamental aspects of human iron metabolism. This includes evaluation of new data for body tissues which show that blood and muscle tissue have a similar iron isotopic composition while heavier iron isotopes are concentrated in the liver. This new observation is in agreement with our earlier hypothesis of a preferential absorption of lighter iron isotopes by the human body. Possible mechanisms for inducing an iron isotope effect at the cellular and molecular level during iron uptake are presented and the potential of iron isotope effects in human blood as a long-term measure of dietary iron absorption is discussed.
(2005): Deciphering the iron isotope message of the human body. International Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 242, 2-3, 117-134.