Focused Ion Beams (FIBs) provide a cross-sectioning tool for submicron dissection of cells and subcellular structures. In
combination with Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), FIB provides complementary morphological information, that
can be further completed by EDX (Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy).
This study focus onto intracellular microstructures, particularly onto metal granules (typically Zn, Cu and Fe) and on the
possibility of sectioning digestive gland cells of the terrestrial isopod P. scaber making the granules available for a
compositional analysis with EDX.
Qualitative and quantitative analysis of metal granules size, amount and distribution are performed. Information is made
available of the cellular storing pattern and, indirectly, metal metabolism. The extension to human level is of utmost
interest since some pathologies of relevance are metal related. Apart from the common metal-overload-diseases
(hereditary hemochromatosis, Wilson's and Menkes disease) it has been demonstrated that metal in excess can influence
carcinogenesis in liver, kidney and breast. Therefore protocols will be established for the observation of mammal cells to
improve our knowledge about the intracellular metal amount and distribution both in healthy cells and in those affected
by primary or secondary metal overload or depletion.