Essential and toxic element concentrations in fresh and formalin-fixed human autopsy tissues

Valerie J. Bush, Thomas P. Moyer, Kenneth P. Batts, Joseph E. Parisi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


The concentrations of five essential elements and six potentially toxic elements were determined in seven organs collected at autopsy from 30 human subjects. Elemental analyses were carried out by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectroscopy, inductively coupled plasma emission spectroscopy, and inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy, and concentrations in fresh and formalin-fixed tissues were compared. Formalin-fixation long-term storage has little effect on most element concentrations in tissue, except for Al and Mn, which changed with prolonged storage in formalin. The kidney and liver contained the greatest concentrations of toxic elements compared with other organs, whereas the essential elements were uniformly distributed among all organs. There was no more than a 10-fold difference in the tissue concentration of the elements studied among the organs, except for the concentration of Fe in liver, and Ca and Mg in bone. We also demonstrate that these elements are homogeneously distributed in tissues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-294
Number of pages11
JournalClinical chemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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