Although manganese is widely distributed in the biosphere, it occurs in only trace amounts in animal tissues. Serum concentrations can be as low as 20 nM and typical tissue concentrations are less than 4 mmolg-1 wet weight; tissue concentrations of 4-8 mmolg-1 wet weight are considered high. Because of the high environmental levels of manganese relative to its concentration in animal tissues, considerable effort must be made to minimize contamination of samples during their collection and handling.

The most common analytical methods that can sensitively measure manganese include neutron activation analysis, X-ray fluorescence, proton-induced X-ray emission, inductively coupled plasma emission, EPR, and flameless atomic absorption spectrophotometry (AAS). Currently, the most common method employed is flameless AAS. All of these methods, with the exception of EPR, measure the total concentration of manganese in the samples. EPR allows selective measurement of bound versus free manganese.

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