Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 78, Issue 1–3, pp 53–66 | Cite as

Concentrations of copper, zinc, manganese, rubidium, and magnesium in thoracic empyemata and corresponding sera

  • Wolfgang Domej
  • Michael Krachler
  • Walter Goessler
  • Alfred Maier
  • Kurt Johann Irgolic
  • Johanna Katharina Lang


In this study, a number of selected trace elements and clinically relevant parameters were compared between thoracic empyemata and the corresponding sera for a better understanding of the trace element distribution between these two compartments. Serum-empyema pairs were obtained from 13 patients and quantified for selected and essential trace elements, namely copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), rubidium (Rb), and magnesium (Mg), by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). In addition, the concentrations of the following clinical laboratory parameters were analyzed by standard methods: total protein, leukocyte count, lactate dehydrogenase, glucose, pH, and the C-reactive protein.

Individual concentrations of the elements determined in the empyemata were frequently higher than in pleural effusions of any other benign or malignant condition except for Cu. Serum Cu exceeded the normal range (600–1400 µg/kg) in 6 out of 13 patients (median 1410 µg/kg). In the empyemata, Zn concentrations (median 2000 µg/kg) were characteristically higher than in the sera (median 450 µg/kg) and exceeded the upper limit for serum (1200 µg/kg) in 8 of the 13 patients. Manganese concentrations in the empyemata (median 2.7 µg/kg) were also higher compared to corresponding sera, although they stayed within the limits considered normal for serum of healthy adults (upper limit 2.9 µg/kg). Rubidium was also moderately higher in most empyemata (median 290 µg/kg) and exceeded the upper limit for serum (560 µg/kg) in two patients. The median concentration of the essential element magnesium was higher in the empyemata (23 mg/kg) than in the sera (21 mg/kg). However, all serum Mg concentrations except three remained within the normal range (17–22 mg/kg).

Removal of large amounts of empyematous fluid may deprive the body of trace elements and can cause suboptimal or deficient trace element status and homeostasis. Recuperation will be accelerated by compensatory supplementation of trace elements. Therefore, selective medication with adequate trace element compounds in patients with thoracic empyema can be generally recommended for zinc. The other elements need not necessarily be monitored or substituted, because of their stable concentrations in the serum. Rb may have a biological impact, but deficiency symptoms in man are not clearly defined.

Index Entries

Thoracic empyema trace elements homeostasis serum ICP-MS 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfgang Domej
    • 1
  • Michael Krachler
    • 2
  • Walter Goessler
    • 2
  • Alfred Maier
    • 3
  • Kurt Johann Irgolic
    • 2
  • Johanna Katharina Lang
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Internal MedicineKarl-Franzens-UniversityGrazAustria
  2. 2.Institute of Chemistry, Analytical ChemistryKarl-Franzens-UniversityGrazAustria
  3. 3.Department of SurgeryKarl-Franzens-UniversityGrazAustria
  4. 4.Pharmaceutical Product Development Consulting ServicesFremont

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