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Anal Sci. 2014;30(2):219-24.

Time-resolved ICP-MS measurement: a new method for elemental and multiparametric analysis of single cells.

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Environmental Standards Section, National Metrology Institute of Japan (NMIJ), National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.


Time-resolved inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) has attracted much attention for elemental and multiparametric analysis of single cells, instead of a classical bulk analysis of large amount of cells after a dissolution. In the time-resolved measurement, cells are directly introduced into the plasma via nebulizing or micro drop dispensing, and then ion plumes corresponding to single cells are individually detected with a high time resolution. The sensitivity and cell throughput in the measurement strongly depend on the time resolution. A high cell introduction efficiency into the plasma supports for a reduction of cell consumption. Biomolecules can also be measured through the attachment of elemental tags, and then the amount distribution of elements and biomolecules in single cells can be evaluated, while providing information concerning cell-to-cell variations. By applying ICP time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ICP-TOFMS), multiparametric analysis of elements and biomolecules can be achieved similar to that by a flow cytometer. This article highlights the technical aspects of the time-resolved ICP-MS measurement technique for elemental and multiparametric analysis of single cells.

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