Analytical Chemistry, 80(22), p. 8702-8711 (2008); doi:10.1021/ac801029p
Little is known about the effects of titanium found in patients wearing prostheses or about the biochemical pathways of this metal when used as an anticancer drug (e.g., titanocene dichloride). In this work, transferrin has been confirmed as the only carrier protein binding Ti in human blood serum samples by making use of different HPLC protein separations followed by element-specific Ti detection by ICPMS. Besides, isotope dilution analysis has been applied to the quantitative speciation of Ti−Tf in standards and human blood serum samples. Species-unspecific and species-specific isotope dilution modes have been explored. In the first case, very low Ti−Tf results were obtained even using two different chromatographic mechanisms, anion exchange (20−24%) and size exclusion (33−36%). Surprisingly, no major Ti species except Ti−Tf were observed in the chromatograms, suggesting that Ti(IV) hydrolysis and precipitation as inactive titanium oxide species could take place inside the chromatographic columns. These results demonstrate that chemical degradation of metalloproteins during analytical separations could ruin the sought speciation quantitative results. The isotope dilution species-specific mode, much more accurate in such cases, has been instrumental in demonstrating the possibility of gross errors in final metalloprotein quantification. For this purpose, an isotopically enriched standard of 49Ti−Tf was synthesized and applied to the quantitative speciation of Ti−Tf again. Using this species-specific spike, Ti−Tf dissociation inside the chromatographic columns used could be corrected, and thus, quantitative Ti−Tf binding in serum (92−102%) was observed. In other words, the usefulness and potential of a species-specific isotope dilution analysis approach to investigate quantitatively metal−protein associations, which can be dissociated at certain experimental conditions, is demonstrated here for the first time.