Research activity

Analytical applications

Biology and biomedicine

Contact: Zita Szikszai, szikszai (at)

In our laboratory, biomedical applications of the ion beam analytical techniques started in the early eighties with measuring trace elements in human blood samples. The time variation of elemental concentrations in erythrocytes and blood plasma during normal and pathological human pregnancies was investigated [45]. In further works prompt and prolonged effects of radiotherapeutic irradiation on iron concentration in human erythrocytes and blood plasma were tested [46].

The most significant stimulus for stepping further in the field of biological and biomedical applications was the EU5 NANODERM project between 2003 and 2007. The main goal of the project was to get quantitative information on the penetration of ultra-fine particles in the various strata of skin, on their penetration pathways as well as on their impact on human health. In order to meet the requirements of the biological and biomedical projects, we developed a new measurement setup and data evaluating system at the Debrecen scanning nuclear microprobe facility, providing an accurate, quantitative method for the analysis of thin biological tissues down to the cell level. In collaborations with our partners, we successfully applied the new bio-PIXE setup in several multidisciplinary studies related to human, animal and plant physiology, such as the above mentioned NANODERM project, in which we demonstrated that TiO2 nanoparticles did not penetrate intact skin [47]. Our results cover a wide range of applications from the determination of trace elements in aquatic plants [48] and fish scales to the investigation of calcium deposits in human carotid arteries, in relation to their thickness [49].

STIM energy loss map and elemental maps of a trifid blur marigold root section


[45] S. Gödény, I. Borbély-Kiss, E. Koltay, S. László, Gy. Szabó: Determination of trace and bulk elements in plasma and erythrocytes of diabetic pregnant women by PIXE method, Int. J. Gynaecol. Obstet. 24 (1986) 201

[46] I. Borbély-Kiss, E. Koltay, Gy. Szabó, É. Pintye, E. Groska, A. Kiss: The effect of radiotherapeutic irradiation on the elemental concentration of iron in human erythrocytes and blood plasma, Nucl. Instr. and Meth. 49 (1990) 254

[47] B. Kiss, T. Bíró, G. Czifra, B.I. Tóth, Zs. Kertész, Z. Szikszai, Á.Z. Kiss, I. Juhász, Ch.C. Zouboulis, J. Hunyadi: Investigation of micronized titanium dioxide penetration in human skin xenografts and its effect on cellular functions of human skin-derived cells, Experimental Dermatology 17 (2008) 659

[48] Z. Szikszai, Zs. Kertész, I. Kocsár, V. Oláh: Quantitative elemental localisation in plants using ion beam microprobe analysis, Acta Biologica Szegediensis 52 (2008) 81

[49] M.T. Magyar, Z. Szikszai, Zs. Kertész, S. Molnár, I. Uzonyi, G.Á. Szíki, L. Csiba: Calcium Distribution in the vessel wall and intima-media thickness of the human carotid artery, Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology 33 (2007) 1171