Klaren WD, Vine D, Vogt S, Robertson LW. 2017. Spatial distribution of metals within the liver acinus and their perturbation by PCB126. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 25(17):16427–16433, PMID: 28940161.
Animal studies show that exposure to the environmental pollutant 3,3′,4,4′,5-pentachlorobiphenyl (PCB126) causes alterations in hepatic metals as measured in acid-digested volume-adjusted tissue. These studies lack the detail of the spatial distribution within the liver. Here we use X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM) to assess the spatial distribution of trace elements within liver tissue. Liver samples from male Sprague Dawley rats, treated either with vehicle or PCB126, were formalin fixed and paraffin embedded. Serial sections were prepared for traditional H&E staining or placed on silicon nitride windows for XFM. With XFM, metal gradients between the portal triad and the central vein were seen, especially with copper and iron. These gradients change with exposure to PCB126, even reverse. This is the first report of how micronutrients vary spatially within the liver and how they change in response to toxicant exposure. In addition, high concentrations of zinc clusters were discovered in the extracellular space. PCB126 treatment did not affect their presence, but did alter their elemental makeup suggesting a more general biological function. Further work is needed to properly evaluate the gradients and their alterations as well as classify the zinc clusters to determine their role in liver function and zinc homeostasis.