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Final Progress Reports: Columbia University: Trace Metals Core

Superfund Research Program

Trace Metals Core

Project Leader: Joseph H. Graziano
Grant Number: P42ES010349
Funding Period: 2000-2017
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Final Progress Reports

Year:   2016  2010  2005 

The Trace Metals Research Support Core currently provides analytical support to three of the biomedical research projects under this SBRP.  The Core has the capability of measuring a broad range of metals and metalloids in biological samples, including Pb, Hg, As, Cd, Mn, Fe, Cu, Zn, Cr, Co, Pt, K and others.  In addition, a number of simple biochemical assays are performed so as to allow for the interpretation of the metal concentration data.  During 2005, the laboratory carried out various analyses of nearly 20,000 biological samples.

From 200-2005, this laboratory has received, processed, analyzed and stored more than 80,000 biological samples from various epidemiologic studies, all of which remain archived for future additional exploration.  Two Perkin-Elmer AAnalyst 600 Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption Spectro-phometers have been the workhorses of the lab.  In addition, a Perkin-Elmer Elan II DRC Mass Spectrometer, installed in 2004, has contributed heavily to many major new findings.  During the past year, scientists have continued to use these instruments to conduct analyses of total arsenic and arsenic metabolites in urine from participants in projects directed by Drs. Ahsan and Graziano, as well as in Dr. Mary Gamble’s R01 grant concerning nutritional influences on arsenic metabolism.  Collectively, these analyses have revealed that:  a) individuals who have a relatively high proportion of monomethyl arsenic acid (MMA) in urine are at increased risk for skin lesions; b) the methylation of arsenic is saturable; c) serum folate concentrations are negatively correlated with the proportion of MMA in urine; d) folate supplementation to folate deficient individuals reduces the proportions of inorganic arsenic and MMA in urine and increases the amount of dimethylarsenic (DMA) in urine; e) blood arsenic concentrations, measured by ICP-MS, are a useful biomarker of arsenic exposure and are associated with the risk of skin lesions; and f) there is a strong correlation between maternal and cord blood arsenic concentrations.  In addition, the laboratory supported Dr. Graziano’s research, which has revealed that water manganese exposure is associated with cognitive deficits in ten year-old children.

An exciting new development has been the establishment of a method to measure extraordinarily low concentrations of arsenic metabolites in blood.  Using mother-cord blood pairs (and maternal urine samples) derived from Dr. Graziano’s research, the analytical team has determined that a) the profile of concentrations of arsenic metabolites (arsenite, arsenate, MMA and DMA) in the blood of newborns is virtually identical to that of their mothers; and b) the profiles of arsenic metabolites in blood is extremely different than that in urine, in that blood contains far more of the toxic metabolites (i.e., arsenite and MMA) than urine.

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