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Atomic Absorption Spectrometry Analysis of Trace Elements in Degenerated Intervertebral Disc Tissue

Lukasz Kubaszewski, Anetta Zioła-Frankowska, Marcin Frankowski, Andrzej Nowakowski, Róża Czabak-Garbacz, Jacek Kaczmarczyk, Robert Gasik

Department of Orthopaedic and Traumatology, W. Dega University Hospital, University of Medical Sciences, Poznań, Poland

Med Sci Monit 2014; 20:2157-2164

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.890654

Available online:

Published: 2014-11-04

Background: Few studies have investigated trace elements (TE) in human intervertebral disc (IVD) tissue. Trace element presence can have diverse meanings: essential TE show the metabolic modalities of the tissue, while environmentally-related TE indicate pollution and tissue-specific absorption and accumulation.
IVD is a highly specific compartment with impaired communication with adjacent bone. Analysis of TE in IVD provides new insights regarding tissue metabolism and IVD communication with other tissues.
Material and Methods: Thirty intervertebral discs were acquired from 22 patients during surgical treatment for degenerative disease. Atomic absorption spectrometry was used to evaluate the concentrations of Al, Cd, Pb, Cu, Ni, Mo, Mg, and Zn.
Results: Al, Pb, Cu, Mg, and Zn were detected in all samples. Pb was significantly positively correlated with age, and Ni concentration was weakly correlated with population count in the patient’s place of residence. Only Cu was observed in higher concentrations in IVD compared to in other tissues. Significant positive correlations were observed between the following pairs: Mg/Zn, Mg/Al, Mg/Pb, Zn/Al, Zn/Pb, and Al/Pb. Negative correlations were observed between Mg/Cd, Zn/Cd, Mg/Mo, and Mo/Pb.
Conclusions: This study is one of few to profile the elements in intervertebral discs in patients with degenerative changes. We report significant differences between trace element concentrations in intervertebral discs compared to in other tissues. Knowledge of the TE accumulation pattern is vital for better understanding intervertebral disc nutrition and metabolism.

Keywords: Age Factors, Adult, Intervertebral Disc Degeneration - metabolism, Spectrophotometry, Atomic, Statistics, Nonparametric, Trace Elements - metabolism