Spinal Tap

Metal speciation in cerebrospinal fluid may bring new understanding of neurodegenerative diseases

September 2017

Debilitating and often incurable, neurodegenerative diseases could affect over 12 million Americans by 2030 (1). Finding treatments – or, even better, cures – for these conditions is a high priority. But first, we need to understand them.

High levels of metal ions in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are currently thought to play a key role in protein misfolding – a hallmark of neurogenerative disorders – so a multinational team of researchers developed a method for simultaneous redox speciation of iron (II/III), manganese (II/III), and copper (I/II). Based on strong cation exchange chromatography and inductively coupled plasma sector field mass spectrometry (ICP-sf-MS), the new method was optimized and tested using real CSF samples taken from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients and neurologically healthy controls (2).

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