Translational Science of Rare Diseases
Trace elements are chemical elements needed in minute amounts for normal physiology. Some of the physiologically relevant trace elements include iodine, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, selenium, cobalt and molybdenum. Of these, some are metals, and in particular, transition metals. The different electron shells of an atom carry different energy levels, with those closest to the nucleus being lowest in energy. The number of electrons in the outermost shell determines the reactivity of such an atom. The electron shells are divided in sub-shells, and in particular the third shell has s, p and d sub-shells. Transition metals are strictly defined as elements whose atom has an incomplete d sub-shell. This incomplete d sub-shell makes them prone to chemical reactions, particularly redox reactions. Transition metals of biologic importance include copper, iron, manganese, cobalt and molybdenum. Zinc is not a transition metal, since it has a complete d sub-shell. Selenium, on the other hand, is strictly speaking a nonmetal, although given its chemical properties between those of metals and nonmetals, it is sometimes considered a metalloid. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the inborn errors of metal and metalloid metabolism.
Ferreira, C., & Gahl, W. A. (2017). Disorders of metal metabolism. Translational Science of Rare Diseases, 2 (3-4). http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/TRD-170015