Facultade de Fisioterapia

Ultrasound-assisted extraction technique for establishing selenium contents in breast cancer biopsies by Zeeman-electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry using multi-injection

Authors: Isela Lavilla, A. Mosquera, J. Cameselle, Carlos Bendicho

Journal: Analytica Chimica Acta, 566: 29-36, 04/2006

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aca.2006.02.068


A solid–liquid extraction method is developed to establish the contents of selenium in breast cancer biopsies. The method is based on the ultrasound-assisted extraction of selenium from pretreated biopsies prior to Se determination by atomic absorption spectrometry with longitudinal-Zeeman background correction. Fifty-one breast biopsies were collected from the Cies Hospital (Vigo, Spain), 32 of which correspond to tumor tissue and 19 to normal tissue (parenchyma). Difficulties arising from the samples analyzed, i.e. small samples mass (50–100 mg), extremely low Se contents and sample texture modification including tissue hardening due to formaldehyde preservation are addressed and overcome. High intensity sonication using a probe together with addition of hydrogen peroxide succeeded in completely extracting Se from biopsies. The multiple injection technique was useful to tackle the low Se contents present in some biopsies. The detection limit was 25 ng g−1 of Se and the precision, expressed as relative standard deviation, was less than 10%. Se contents ranged from 0.08 to 0.4 μg g−1 for parenchyma samples and from 0.09 to 0.8 μg g−1 for tumor samples. In general, Se levels in tumor biopsies were higher as compared with the adjacent normal tissue in 19 patients by a factor of up to 6. Analytical data confirmed Se accumulation in the breast tumors.