Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 189, Issue 1, pp 28–33 | Cite as

The Screening of Nails for Selected Essential and Toxic Elements in Normotensive and Pre-Eclamptic Women

  • C Soobramoney
  • K MadurayEmail author
  • J Moodley
  • R Moodley
  • T Naicker


To compare the concentrations of 13 different elements in nail samples from pre-eclamptic and normotensive pregnant women. The study site was a regional hospital in Durban, KwaZulu Natal. Nail samples were collected from normotensive (n = 33) and pre-eclamptic (n = 33) pregnant women. Approximately 0.02 g of nail samples were digested in 70% nitric acid and analyzed using inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry. Analytes of interest were the following essential elements calcium (Ca), chromium (Cr), cobalt (Co), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), manganese (Mn), nickel (Ni), selenium (Se) and Zinc (Zn) as well as toxic elements, arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb). The observed concentrations of bioelements (mean, μg/g), Ca: normotensive (N) 3467 ± 197 vs (PE) 2897 ± 190; Mg: (N) 736 ± 61 vs (PE) 695 ± 59, were lower in pre-eclampsia albeit not statistically significant. Similarly, the observed concentrations of bioelements (mean, μg/g), Cd: (N) 3 ± 0.3 vs (PE) 2 ± 0.4; Co: (N) 3 ± 0.3 (PE) not detected; Mn: (N) 7 ± 1 (PE) 4 ± 0.8, were significantly lower in pre-eclampsia (p = 0.004, 0.0001 and 0.022, respectively). Therefore, this study demonstrated significantly lower levels of Cd, Co and Mn in pre-eclampsia which justifies the need for further research on these elements towards the effective management or prevention of pre-eclampsia which could ultimately also aid in establishing its pathogenesis.


Pre-eclampsia Essential nutrients Toxic elements Pregnancy Nails 



The authors would like to express their sincerest gratitude to Nomfundo Mahlangeni (Chemistry Department UKZN), Zinhle Mkhize (research nurse) and Dr. David Ofusori (Optics and Imaging Department UKZN).

Author Contribution

Professor T Naicker and Professor J Moodley contributed to the concept and design of the study. C Soobramoney, Dr. K Maduray and Dr. R Moodley contributed in the analysis of the trace elements and statistical analysis. All of the authors contributed to compiling and editing the manuscript.


The authors would like to thank the College of Health Science (UKZN) and National Research Foundation (NRF) for funding this project.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • C Soobramoney
    • 1
  • K Maduray
    • 2
    Email author
  • J Moodley
    • 3
  • R Moodley
    • 4
  • T Naicker
    • 5
  1. 1.Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital and School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Science, College of Health SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu NatalDurbanSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Human Physiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu NatalDurbanSouth Africa
  3. 3.Women Health and HIV Research Group, School of Clinical Medicine, College of Health SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu NatalDurbanSouth Africa
  4. 4.School of Chemistry and Physics, College of Agriculture, Engineering and ScienceUniversity of KwaZulu NatalDurbanSouth Africa
  5. 5.Optics and Imaging Centre, School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Science, College of Health SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu NatalDurbanSouth Africa

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