Iron Studies in Man using Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis and Enriched Stable Activable Isotopes

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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Iron is an essential trace element involved in many processes in the human body. Some disorders like iron deficiency anaemia and haemochromatosis directly result from changes in iron status, while on the other hand iron metabolism changes during illness. Since these adjustments in the iron handling of the body may have consequences for the clinical outcome and treatment of patients, a reliable and accurate test to measure iron concentrations and to study iron metabolism in normal and pathological conditions is required. A number of studies in this thesis demonstrate that instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) is an adequate method to measure even low concentrations of iron reliably not only in blood, but also in urine, faeces and red blood cells. A great advantage of this technique in contrast to techniques such as mass spectrometry is, that materials in which iron should be measured, hardly need preparation before measurement. It is even possible to measure iron concentrations in complete meals without the need to take small samples. INAA is also able to measure low concentrations of an enriched stable iron isotope facilitating the use of such an isotope in clinical studies without exposure to radiation. In a first clinical study using INAA it could be demonstrated that Sudanese patients with severe iron deficiency anaemia also have severe zinc deficiency. Since in INAA access to a nuclear reactor facility is necessary, the technique should be considered more suitable for research than for routine use.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Wolterbeek, H.T., Supervisor
  • van de Wiel, A., Supervisor
Award date19 Dec 2016
Print ISBNs978-94-6295-584-4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • iron metabolism disorders
  • INAA
  • ICP-MS
  • enriched stable isotopes


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