Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 335–350 | Cite as

Appraisal of the methodology and applications for measurement of the zinc content of blood components as indicators of zinc status

  • James C. Wallwork
Body Status from Trace Elements in Blood, Urine, Skin, and Hair


Methods for the measurement of the zinc content of blood components (plasma, erythrocytes, platelets, mononuclear leukocytes, and polymorphonuclear neutrophils) as indicators of the zinc status of animals have been reviewed and evaluated. The values of plasma or serum zinc concentrations as indicators of zinc status in experimental animals or humans is questionable. Consequently, the zinc content of blood cellular components has been suggested as better indicators of zinc status. Methodological problems, such as incomplete cellular separation or zinc contamination, occur in some of the procedures applied to the quantitation of blood cellular component zinc. Specialized microprobe procedures involving, for example, proton-induced X-ray fluorescence, scanning ion technology, mass spectrometery, or laser microprobe mass analysis might be used to measure the absolute zinc level in individual cells subjected to minimal handling. Then, more conventional methods can be tested against the true standard. Nevertheless, there appears to be species differences in regard to the response of blood cellular zinc concentrations to dietary zinc deficiency. Blood cellular component zinc is conserved during severe zinc deficiency in the rat. In contrast, the zinc content of blood cellular components in humans may reflect the whole body zinc status.

Index Entries

Tissue zinc content blood cellular components mononuclear leukocytes polymorphonuclear neutrophils platelets erythrocytes density gradient cellular separation Ficoll-Hypaque silica particles coated with polyvinylpyrrolidone (Percoll) dextran sedimentation flame atomic absorption spectrometry flameless atomic absorption spectrometry microprobe proton induced X-ray fluorescence zinc deficiency rat guinea pig human, zinc deficiency in 


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Copyright information

© The Humana Press Inc 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • James C. Wallwork
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.USDA, ARS, HNRC on Aging at Tufts UniversityBoston
  2. 2.Division of Human Nutrition, Dept. of Preventive Medicine & Community HealthUniversity of Texas Medical BranchGalveston

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