Effect of sample preparation techniques on the concentrations and distributions of elements in biological tissues using µSRXRF: a comparative study
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Routine tissue sample preparation using chemical fixatives is known to preserve the morphology of the tissue being studied. A competitive method, cryofixation followed by freeze drying, involves no chemical agents and maintains the biological function of the tissue. The possible effects of both sample preparation techniques in terms of the distribution of bio-metals (calcium (Ca), copper (Cu) zinc (Zn), and iron (Fe) specifically) in human skin tissue samples was investigated. Micro synchrotron radiation x-ray fluorescence (μSRXRF) was used to map bio-metal distribution in epidermal and dermal layers of human skin samples from various locations of the body that have been prepared using both techniques. For Ca, Cu and Zn, there were statistically significant differences between the epidermis and dermis using the freeze drying technique (p = 0.02, p < 0.01, and p < 0.01, respectively). Also using the formalin fixed, paraffin embedded technique the levels of Ca, Cu and Zn, were significantly different between the epidermis and dermis layers (p = 0.03, p < 0.01, and p < 0.01, respectively). However, the difference in levels of Fe between the epidermis and dermis was unclear and further analysis was required. The epidermis was further divided into two sub-layers, one mainly composed of the stratum corneum and the other deeper layer, the stratum basale. It was found that the difference between the distribution of Fe in the two epidermal layers using the freeze drying technique resulted in a statistically significant difference (p = 0.012). This same region also showed a difference in Fe using the formalin fixed, paraffin embedded technique (p < 0.01). The formalin fixed, paraffin embedded technique also showed a difference between the deeper epidermal layer and the dermis (p < 0.01). It can be concluded that studies involving Ca, Cu and Zn might show similar results using both sample preparation techniques, however studies involving Fe would need more special attention.
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