Single cell analysis has become an important field of research in recent years reflecting the heterogeneity of cellular responses in biological systems. Here, we demonstrate a new method, based on laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS), which can quantify in situ gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) in single cells. Dried residues of picoliter droplets ejected by a commercial inkjet printer were used to simulate matrix-matched calibration standards. The gold mass in single cells exposed to 100 nM NIST Au NPs (Reference material 8012, 30 nm) for 4 h showed a log-normal distribution, ranging from 1.7 to 72 fg Au per cell, which approximately corresponds to 9 to 370 Au NPs per cell. The average result from 70 single cells (15 ± 13 fg Au per cell) was in good agreement with the result from an aqua regia digest solution of 1.2 × 106 cells (18 ± 1 fg Au per cell). The limit of quantification was 1.7 fg Au. This paper demonstrates the great potential of LA-ICPMS for single cell analysis and the beneficial study of biological responses to metal drugs or NPs at the single cell level.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry