BACKGROUND: Parkinson's disease is affecting about 1% of the population above 65 years. Improvements in medicine support prolonged lifetime which increases the total concentration of humans affected by the disease. It is suggested that occupational and environmental exposure to metals like iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) can influence the risk for Parkinson's disease. These metals play a key role as cofactors in many enzymes and proteins.
METHODS: In this case-control study, we investigated the Mn-, Fe-, Cu- and Zn-species in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) by size-exclusion chromatography hyphenated to inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (SEC-ICP-MS) and the total concentration of these metals by inductively coupled plasma sector field mass spectrometry (ICP-sf-MS).
RESULTS: The investigation of total metal concentration and speciation provided only minor changes, but it produced strong significance for a number of ratios. The analysis revealed a strong change in the ratio between total concentration of Fe and the amino acid-fraction of Cu. This could be observed when analyzing both the respective element concentrations of the fraction (which also depends on individual variation of the total element concentration) as well as when being expressed as percentage of total concentration (normalization) which more clearly shows changes of distribution pattern independent of individual variation of total element concentrations.
CONCLUSION: Speciation analysis, therefore, is a powerful technique to investigate changes in a case-control study where ratios of different species play an important role.