Characteristic X-ray fluorescence is a technique that can be used to establish elemental concentrations for a large number of different chemical elements simultaneously in different locations in cell and tissue samples. Exposing the samples to an X-ray beam is the basis of X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM). This technique provides the excellent trace element sensitivity; and, due to the large penetration depth of hard X-rays, an opportunity to image whole cells and quantify elements on a per cell basis. Moreover, because specimens prepared for XFM do not require sectioning, they can be investigated close to their natural, hydrated state with cryogenic approaches. Until several years ago, XFM was not widely available to bio-medical communities, and rarely offered resolution better then several microns. This has changed drastically with the development of third-generation synchrotrons. Recent examples of elemental imaging of cells and tissues show the maturation of XFM imaging technique into an elegant and informative way to gain insight into cellular processes. Future developments of XFM - building of new XFM facilities with higher resolution, higher sensitivity or higher throughput will further advance studies of native elemental makeup of cells and provide the biological community including the budding area of bionanotechnology with a tool perfectly suited to monitor the distribution of metals including nanovectors and measure the results of interactions between the nanovectors and living cells and tissues.
- Elemental maps
- X-ray fluorescence microscopy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology