Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry in single-particle mode (spICPMS) is a promising method for the detection of metal-containing nanoparticles (NPs) and the quantification of their size and number concentration. Whereas existing studies mainly focus on NPs suspended in aqueous matrices, not much is known about the applicability of spICPMS for determination of NPs in complex matrices such as biological tissues. In the present study, alkaline and enzymatic treatments were applied to solubilize spleen samples from rats, which had been administered 60-nm gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) intravenously. The results showed that similar size distributions of AuNPs were obtained independent of the sample preparation method used. Furthermore, the quantitative results for AuNP mass concentration obtained with spICPMS following alkaline sample pretreatment coincided with results for total gold concentration obtained by conventional ICPMS analysis of acid-digested tissue. The recovery of AuNPs from enzymatically digested tissue, however, was approximately four times lower. Spiking experiments of blank spleen samples with AuNPs showed that the lower recovery was caused by an inferior transport efficiency of AuNPs in the presence of enzymatically digested tissue residues.
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 2014, Vol 406, p. 3845-3851