To investigate disparities in hepatic copper concentrations determined by atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS), inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), and digital image analysis of rhodanine-stained sections.
Medical records of dogs for which hepatic biopsy specimens had been submitted between January 1999 and December 2019 for evaluation of copper content were reviewed. Paired hepatic copper concentrations obtained with digital image analysis and AAS or ICP-MS were compared, and Spearman rank correlation coefficients were calculated to test for correlations between qualitative copper accumulation scores and hepatic copper concentrations. For dogs for which ≥ 4 rhodanine-stained hepatic sections were available, intraindividual variation in copper distribution across hepatic sections was evaluated.
Median hepatic copper concentrations obtained with digital image analysis exceeded concentrations obtained with AAS or ICP-MS. Concentrations were also higher in older dogs (≥ 9 years vs < 9 years), dogs of breeds with a typical body weight ≥ 20 kg (44 lb), and dogs with necroinflammatory changes or uneven copper distribution. Qualitative copper accumulation scores were significantly associated with hepatic copper concentrations; however, the correlation between qualitative score and concentration obtained with digital image analysis (rs = 0.94) was higher than the correlation between qualitative score and concentration obtained with AAS (rs = 0.75) or ICP-MS (rs = 0.57). The coefficient of variation for hepatic copper concentrations obtained with digital image analysis was significantly higher for dogs with higher hepatic copper concentrations.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
Results suggested that spectroscopic-spectrometric analysis of hepatic biopsy specimens commonly underestimated the concentration obtained by digital image analysis of rhodanine-stained sections.