An evaluation study of trace element content in colorectal liver metastases and surrounding normal livers by X-ray fluorescence
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BACKGROUND: Trace elements are involved in many key pathways involving cell cycle control. The levels of trace metals such as iron, copper, and zinc in colorectal liver metastases have not previously been assessed. METHODS: The trace element content in snap-frozen cancerous liver tissue from patients who underwent liver resection for colorectal liver metastases was compared with the normal surrounding liver (distant from the cancer) using X-ray fluorescence (XRF). RESULTS: X-ray fluorescence was performed on a total of 60 samples from 30 patients. Of these 29 matched pairs (of cancer and normal liver distant from cancer from the same patient) were eligible for univariate analysis. Iron (0.00598 vs. 0.02306), copper (0.00541 vs. 0.00786) and zinc (0.01790 vs. 0.04873) were statistically significantly lower in the cancer tissue than the normal liver. Iron, copper, and zinc were lower in the cancer tissue than in the normal liver in 24/29 (82.8%), 23/29 (79.3%), and 28/29 (96.6%) of cases respectively. Multivariate analysis of the 60 samples revealed that zinc was the only trace element decreased in the cancer tissue after adjusting for the other elements. Zinc levels were not affected by any of the histopathological variables. CONCLUSION: Iron, copper, and zinc are lower in colorectal liver metastases than normal liver. An investigation into the pathways underlying these differences may provide a new understanding of cancer development and possible novel therapeutic targets.
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