Analytical Chemistry

Determination of Lithium in Human Serum by Isotope Dilution Atomic Absorption Spectrometry



The therapeutic dose of lithium (Li) compounds, which are widely used for the treatment of psychiatric and hematologic disorders, is close to its toxic level; therefore, drug monitoring protocols are mandatory. Herein, we propose a fast, simple, and low-cost analytical procedure for the traceable determination of Li concentration in human serum, based on the monitoring of the Li isotope dilution through the partially resolved isotope shift in its electronic transition around 670.80 nm using a commercially available high-resolution continuum source graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometer. With this technique, serum samples only require acidic digestion before analysis. The procedure requires three measurements—an enriched 6Li spike, a mixture of a certified standard solution and spike, and a mixture of the sample and spike with a nominal 7Li/6Li ratio of 0.82. Lanthanum has been used as an internal spectral standard for wavelength correction. The spectra are described as the linear superposition of the contributions of the respective isotopes, each consisting of a spin-orbit doublet, which can be expressed as Gaussian components with constant spectral position and width and different relative intensity, reflecting the isotope ratio in the sample. Both, the spectral constants and the correlation between isotope ratio and relative band intensity have been experimentally obtained using commercially available materials enriched with Li isotopes. The procedure has been validated using five human serum certified reference materials. The results are metrologically comparable and compatible to the certified values. The measurement uncertainties are comparable to those obtained by the more complex and expensive technique, isotope dilution mass spectrometry.


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Supplementary material

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Script 1 data preprocessing
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Script 2 data analysis