Wilson disease is an inherited disorder caused by mutations in the ATP7B
gene resulting in copper metabolism disturbances. As a consequence, copper accumulates in different organs with most common presentation in liver and brain. Chelating agents that nonspecifically chelate copper, and promote its urinary excretion, or zinc salts interfering with the absorption of copper from the gastrointestinal tract, are current medications. Also gene therapy, restoring ATP7B
gene function or trials with bis-choline tetrathiomolybdate (WTX101) removing excess copper from intracellular hepatic copper stores and increasing biliary copper excretion, is promising in reducing body’s copper content. Therapy efficacy is mostly evaluated by testing for evidence of liver disease and neurological symptoms, hepatic synthetic functions, indices of copper metabolisms, urinary copper excretions, or direct copper measurements. However, several studies conducted in patients or Wilson disease models have shown that not only the absolute concentration of copper, but also its spatial distribution within the diseased tissue is relevant for disease severity and outcome. Here we discuss laser ablation inductively coupled plasma spectrometry imaging as a novel method for accurate determination of trace element concentrations with high diagnostic sensitivity, spatial resolution, specificity, and quantification ability in experimental and clinical Wilson disease specimens.
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