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1986, The British Journal of Radiology, 59, 1209-1219 DECEMBER 1986

The composition of body tissues


By H. Q. Woodard, Ph.D. and *D. R. White, Ph.D.
Department of Biophysics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY
10021, USA, and 'Radiation Physics Department, St Bartholomew's Hospital, London EC1A 7BE
(Received June 1986)
ABSTRACT
A reassessment of the composition data given by ICRP (1975)
has been completed, augmented with results from appropriate
recent studies. The water, lipid, protein, carbohydrate and ash
contents, together with elemental compositions, mass and
electron densities are given here for 56 body tissues. Seven
tissues (adipose tissue, heart, kidney, liver, mammary gland,
muscleskeletal and skin) had sufficient measured data to
enable the spread in the results to be evaluated. All the
compositions presented apply to healthy, adult humans, except
for some new material on the bones of children.
The need for reliable composition and density data of
body tissues is a prerequisite in theoretical dosimetry
involving radiation interactions in humans. Such data
are also essential if realistic tissue substitutes are to be
formulated for radiation measurements with phantoms.
In both instances, uncertainties in the elemental composi-
tions and mass densities of the body tissues under
investigation will lead to reduced confidence in the
relevance of the calculated and measured doses.
Uncertainties in the elemental composition of a body
tissue may affect the dosimetry of low- and high-energy
photon and paniculate radiations. The concentrations of
high-atomic-number elements (Z ^ 8) in a tissue will
strongly influence photoelectric absorption, while
hydrogen content will affect Compton scattering.
Differences in mass attenuation coefficients in excess of
10% have been reported between soft tissues (White &
Fitzgerald, 1977). In fast-neutron dosimetry the
importance of hydrogen is well established, with a 1 %
deviation in the total hydrogen content of soft tissue
producing a 10% change in kerma (International
Commission on Radiation Units and Measurements
(ICRU), 1977).
The importance of reliable body tissue compositions
in radiation dosimetry was realised over 20 years ago,
when ICRU (1964) published elemental data for
striated muscle and compact bone. These compositions
have been widely used, especially the former, which is
often referred to as "ICRU muscle". In 1975, the
International Commission on Radiological Protection
(ICRP) published, in a report on "Reference Man",
comprehensive elemental data on over 80 organs,
tissues and tissue components (ICRP, 1975). Unfortun-
ately, errors and inconsistencies exist within these data;
for example, over 20% of the compositions quoted had
mass discrepancies exceeding 5% (White & Fitzgerald,
1977).
The elemental composition of a body tissue is
dependent upon the relative amounts and compositions
of the various substances (water, lipid, protein,
carbohydrate, minerals) which make up the tissue. The
literature reveals significant variations between normal
persons in the composition of certain body tissues
(adipose tissue, heart, kidney, liver, muscleskeletal,
skin). Conversely, some body tissues (cortical bone,
erythrocytes) exhibit small variations between
individuals.
In this study, three sources of composition data have
been considered. Firstly, the published analyses quoted
in Reference Man have been reassessed in order to
eliminate anomalies. Secondly, computer-assisted
searches of the literature covering the period 1966-85
yielded a surprisingly small number of additional useful
data. Thirdly, these results were supplemented by
unpublished measurements undertaken on selected
body tissues during the past 30 years by one of the
authors (H.Q.W.).
Collating data from different authors has its
problems as the tissue specimens may be handled in
different ways. In particular, some use fresh tissue,
others use material which is dehydrated, defatted or
otherwise manipulated. Considerable effort has been
made in this study to detect and correct such
irregularities in order to obtain a reliable and consistent
set of results.
Results for 56 body tissues are presented here.
Whenever sufficient data are available, the results for
tissues known to vary between individuals are quoted as
mean +1 standard deviation. Single compositions are
given for the remaining tissues. Mass and electron
densities are tabulated for all of the body tissues
analysed.
Unless otherwise specified, the compositions
presented in this paper apply to healthy, adult humans.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Before the analytical techniques used in this study are
discussed, it is important to describe clearly the selected
body tissues, as much confusion has been caused in the
past by ambiguous descriptions. Sources of composition
data will be given at the end of each brief descriptive
passage.
Adipose tissue
This is composed of a protein matrix supporting cells
(adipocytes) highly specialised for the storage of lipid,
which is a mixture of the triglycerides of various long-
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VOL. 59, No. 708
50
Z 40
~ 30
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~ 0
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Wa
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ter
Protein
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O8
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Adipose
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7 ^
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H. Q. Woodard and D. R. White
Blood
^__
-
9
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1
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LL
Ash
i i
40 50 60 70 80 90
Lipid component {%, by mass)
FIG. 1.
Plots of lipid components versus ash, protein and water
components for adipose tissue. Plotted data: 1, Mitchell et al,
1945; 2, Forbes et al, 1953; 3, Forbes et al, 1956; 4, Entenmen
et al, 1958; 5, Pawan & Clode, 1960; 6, Thomas, 1962; 7,
Morse & Soeldner, 1963; 8, Baker, 1969; 9, Woodard, 1986.
chain fatty acids. Adipose tissue, often erroneously
referred to as "fat", makes up some 18% and 29% by
mass in the male and female, respectively. Data from
nine sources are shown graphically in Fig. 1. (Addi-
tional information was obtained from: Keys & Brozek,
1953; Dju et al, 1958; Morse & Soeldner, 1965;
Martinsson, 1967.)
Adrenal gland
These two small endocrine glands are just above
and attached to the kidneys. The tissue of medulla
produces adrenalin; that of the cortex produces several
steroid hormones. No distinction is made here in the
composition of these two tissues. Available data are
sparse (Dju et al, 1958; Long et al, 1961; Tipton &
Cook, 1963; Slater et al, 1964; Eisenstein, 1967).
Aorta
This major artery in the body is a contractile,
muscular tissue, important radiologically because it
often develops calcified plaques in the intima. Available
composition data are again sparse (Kirk, 1962; Tipton
& Cook, 1963; Woodard, 1986).
The composition of erythrocytes, the major formed
elements in the blood, varies little with health. Plasma,
the non-cellular element in circulating blood, normally
contains 6.2-7.8%, by mass, of protein and numerous
electrolytes whose concentrations are kept nearly
constant by powerful homeostatic mechanisms. The
composition is dominated by the high water content.
Whole blood was assumed to comprise 45% erythro-
cytes and 55% plasma, by volume (Neufeld, 1937;
Albritton, 1952; Houssay et al, 1955; Altman &
Dittmer, 1961; Long et al, 1961; Oser, 1965; Wintrobe,
1967; Tandon et al, 1978; Wootton & Freeman, 1982).
Brain
Cerebrospinal fluid bathes the neurological structures
in the brain and spinal cord. It is not an ultrafiltrate of
plasma but is a special secretion. There are two types of
tissue in the brain. White matter contains much more
lipid than grey matter. The lipids are the most
distinctive constituents and are of several types. Some
of these are present in combinations with proteins or
carbohydrates and are not always distinguished in
chemical analyses, resulting in variations of up to 10%
in reported lipid content. In this work it has been
assumed that the lipids of the brain were (by mass) 50%
sphingomyelin, 25% cerebroside and 25% cholesterol
(Fieser & Fieser, 1963). Data from seven sources were
used (Himwich & Himwich, 1957; Mcllwain, 1959;
Altman & Dittmer, 1961; Long et al, 1961; Diem, 1962;
Widdowson & Dickerson, 1964; Fillerup & Mead,
1967).
Connective tissue
This is made up of tendons, fascia and periarticular
tissue. As information on humans is lacking, the
composition adopted was based on the tendons of cattle
(Oser, 1965).
Eye lens
The transparent, biconvex, semisolid body in the eye
does not have a blood supply. The mass density
increases with age and a value appropriate for a 40-
year-old was accepted (Scammon & Hesdorffer, 1937;
Spector, 1956; Long et al, 1961).
Gallbladder
In the absence of any definitive information, the wall
of the gallbladder was assumed to be the same as
muscleskeletal. The secretion bile has a high water
content, with small quantities of cholic acid and mucin
(Oser, 1965).
Gastrointestinal tract
Intestinal wall, oesophagus and stomach were con-
sidered. The composition of the oesophagus, a muscular
tube extending from the pharynx to the stomach, was
assumed to be the same as that for muscleskeletal. The
intestinal wall and the stomach have similar composi-
1210
DECEMBER 1986
The composition of body tissues
tions, with the rapidly metabolising intestines containing
a higher proportion of water but a lower protein
content (Neufeld, 1937; Mitchell et al, 1945; Forbes et
al, 1953, 1956; Tipton & Cook, 1963; Eve, 1966;
Saunders et al, 1966).
Heart
The published data for the mass of heart muscle and
the volume of blood before contraction are variable. It
is well known that cardiac output and size change
markedly with activity in healthy individuals and the
baseline values are altered in disease. Compositions for
the heart with and without blood were derived,
assuming that the blood-filled heart comprises (by
mass) 40% heart tissue and 60% whole blood (Mitchell
et al, 1945; Friedman, 1951; Forbes et al, 1953, 1956;
Spector, 1956; Dju et al, 1958; Dittmer & Grebe, 1959;
Widdowson & Dickerson, 1960, 1964; Tipton & Cook,
1963).
Kidney
The kidney is composed of two types of tissue, the
cortex and the medulla, which have different metabolic
functions. The considerable volume in the central part
of the organ is occupied by collecting ducts. The data
reported here are average values for the cortex and
medulla without the ducts (Neufeld, 1937; Mitchell et al,
1945; Forbes et al, 1953, 1956; Spector, 1956; Long et
al, 1961; Diem, 1962; Tipton & Cook, 1963).
Liver
This large organ, which is made up of several cell
types, has multiple functions. It takes up simple
compounds from the blood and the chyle and synthesises
albumin and complex lipids. These products are stored
temporarily and then released into the circulation.
Hence, the protein and lipid content of the liver is
higher a few hours after a meal than after a fast. In
disease, either the protein or the lipid content may
increase. These conditions probably account for much
of the variability in the reported liver compositions.
Composition data were available from 14 sources
(Neufeld, 1937; Mitchell et al, 1945; Hildes et al, 1949;
Widdowson et al, 1951; Forbes et al, 1953, 1956;
Spector, 1956; Dju et al, 1958; Widdowson &
Dickerson, 1964; Long et al, 1961; Diem, 1962; Tipton
& Cook, 1963; Jorulf, 1975; Ikawa et al, 1983).
Lung
At any time during life nearly half of the mass of a
lung is made up of blood circulating in the vessels. The
average composition of lung tissue, parenchyma, is very
similar to that of whole blood, but the distribution of
radionuclides in the two substances may be very
different. Hence, the compositions of lung parenchyma
and lungblood-filled are listed separately here. The
composition of the latter is taken to be, by mass, 57%
parenchyma and 43% whole blood. The considerable
variation in water content due to disease probably
24
20
16
~ 4
3
-
-
1 I 1
Muscle-
skeletal
u
4
sLipid ^ >
\
Protein -
-
>
72 76 80
Water component (%, by mass)
FIG. 2.
Plots of water components versus ash, lipid and protein
components for muscleskeletal. Plotted data: 1, Mitchell et
al, 1945; 2, Forbes et al, 1953; 3, Forbes et al, 1956; 4,
Mcllwain, 1959; 5, Fomon, 1966.
contributes to the spread in the published compositions
for this organ (Neufeld, 1937; Mitchell et al, 1945;
Forbes et al, 1953, 1956; Cander & Forster, 1959;
Fowler & Young, 1959; Diem, 1962; Tipton & Cook,
1963; Widdowson & Dickerson, 1964).
Lymph
Described as "blood without its red corpuscles"
(Oser, 1965), the composition adopted for blood plasma
was used.
Mammary gland
These glands are embedded in, but separate from, a
large mass of hormonally controlled adipose tissue. The
glands themselves contain considerable specialised lipid.
The data here are the means of seven specimens from
post-menopausal women. No data are available from
lactating glands (Hammerstein et al, 1979; Woodard,
1986).
Muscleskeletal
Skeletal or striated muscle comprises (by mass)
approximately 40% of the normal adult male and 30%
of the female. The tissue consists primarily of
specialised contractile cells, but also contains variable
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VOL. 59, No. 708
H. Q. Woodard and D. R. White
amounts of fascia and other connective structures,
blood vessels, lipid and interstitial fluid. The amounts of
these secondary components relative to the contractile
cells may vary considerably, even in health. Composi-
tion data from five sources are shown graphically in
Fig. 2. (Additional information was obtained from:
Neufeld, 1937; Hildes et al, 1949; Dju et al, 1958; Diem,
1962; Tipton & Cook, 1963; Widdowson & Dickerson,
1964.)
Ovary
Compositions from five published sources were
considered for this female reproductive organ (Neufeld,
1937; Block, 1951; Spector, 1956; Long et al, 1961;
Tipton & Cook, 1963).
Pancreas
This is a large endocrine gland whose main function
is the production of insulin (Neufeld, 1937; Mitchell et
al, 1945; Forbes et al, 1953; Tipton & Cook, 1963).
Prostate
This is the main source of seminal fluid in the male; it
has a tendency to hypertrophy in later life and may
reach 2-3 times its normal volume (Spector, 1956;
Tipton & Cook, 1963).
Skeleton
The principal components of the skeleton, namely
cartilage, cortical bone, red and yellow marrow and
spongiosa, were reviewed recently by the authors
(Woodard & White, 1982). The compositions given in
the review have been updated here in the light of further
investigations (Woodard, 1986).
Skin
The skin is composed of two distinct layers, the
epidermis and the dermis, together with an ill-defined
connective-tissue layer, the hypodermis, which blends
into the adipose tissue. The layers are difficult to
separate and each varies with age, sex and race and
between different parts of the body of the same person.
The difficulty of separating the layers, together with the
variability between individuals, contribute to the wide
range of reported compositions (Mitchell et al, 1945;
Forbes et al, 1953, 1956; Rothman, 1954; Spector, 1956;
Diem, 1962; Tipton & Cook, 1963; Widdowson &
Dickerson, 1964; Brincat et al, 1983; Woodard, 1986).
Spleen
The size and composition of the spleen, which in the
healthy adult stores, recycles or destroys erythrocytes,
varies with its physiological activity (Neufeld, 1937;
Widdowson et al, 1951; Forbes et al, 1953, 1956;
Spector, 1956; Diem, 1962; Tipton & Cook, 1963).
Testis
Composition data are sparse for this male reproduc-
tive organ (Neufeld, 1937; Tipton & Cook, 1963).
Thyroid
This gland, whose main function is the elaboration of
the hormones triiodothyronine and tetraiodothyronine,
contains considerable deposits of the specialised
protein, thyroglobulin. Where intake of iodine is
deficient, the gland may increase to many times its
normal mass (Neufeld, 1937; Shohl, 1939; Long et al,
1961; Tipton & Cook, 1963; Widdowson & Dickerson,
1964; Goldberg et al, 1968).
Trachea
This major airway contains rings of cartilage whose
function is to keep it open, alternating with muscle and
connective tissue. In the absence of reliable data, the
trachea was assumed to be composed of 90% muscle
skeletal and 10% cartilage, by mass.
Urinary bladder
This muscular sac lined with mucosa acts as a
reservoir for urine. It is highly distensible, with its
volume varying typically from 30 cm
3
to 220 cm
3
. The
wall of the bladder was taken to be the same as
muscleskeletal. Urine is predominantly water, with
small quantities of urea and other electrolytes (Oser,
1965). Published values for mass, volume and wall
thickness were not self-consistent. Hence, from an
estimate of the bladder contents in intravenous
pyelograms in which the bladders appeared normal, a
mean wall mass of 60 g was established and urine
volumes of 33.5 ml and 212 ml for the contracted and
distended bladder, respectively. From these data the
elemental compositions of the empty and filled bladder
were derived.
In addition to the references cited for these body
tissue compositions, note has been taken of the
interpretations given by ICRP (1975) and the informa-
tion reported by Kerr (1982).
For each body tissue the analytical procedure
adopted for arriving at a satisfactory composition was
as follows:
(i) A set of data was compiled for the contents
( ^ 0. 1 % by mass) of water, lipid, protein,
carbohydrate, ash or other components in the
given body tissue.
(ii) Similarly, the concentrations ( ^ 0.1 % by mass)
of elements with Z > 8 were compiled.
(iii) Data obviously from diseased tissues or those
derived from paediatric sources were eliminated.
(iv) For more than five sets of reliable data, the co-
relationships between different components were
derived graphically (Figs 1, 2). This is illustrated
for adipose tissue and muscleskeletal. This
enabled three sets of compositions to be calcu-
lated once the mean (M) and standard deviation
{a) were established, that is the compositions
appropriate to Ma, M and M + a.
(v) For all other sets of data, only a single (mean)
composition was established.
1212
DECEMBER 1986
The composition of body tissues
(vi) The derived composition was corrected to 100%
mass by allocating any missing mass to the major
( ^ 75%) component, or proportionally between
two major components when each were < 75%.
Excess mass was corrected in the same fashion.
Generally, these corrections were within the
reported variations in the major component(s).
(vii) The elemental composition was then calculated
from the elemental compositions of the com-
ponents. Minor rounding errors were generally no
more than 0.1 % by mass and were attributed to
the major component.
(viii) The mass density was derived from the mass
proportions and mass densities of the components
(Fomon, 1966). This value was usually within 2%
of the mean mass density derived from published
measured values.
(ix) Mass and volume electron densities (el.kg"
1
and
el.m""
3
) were then calculated from the elemental
atomic weights, Avogadro's number
(6.022045 xl O^kmoP
1
) (Handbook of
Chemistry and Physics, 1982) and the accepted
mass density of the body tissue.
RESULTS
The results of the analyses are given in Tables IIII.
The amounts (%, by mass) of water, lipid, protein
and other components in each body tissue are listed in
Table I. Certain components, such as the carbohydrate
chondroitin sulphate, the lipid sphingomyelin and
protein, contain elements with Z > 8. The remaining
high-atomic-number elements that have been reported
are included as "minerals" in parentheses beside the ash
content in the sixth column of Table I. These values are
often less than the ash contents.
Whenever the available data for a body tissue
permitted the spread in the compositions to be
calculated, the resulting three compositions are
presented as Nos 1, 2, 3, referring to values derived
from Ma,M and M+a, respectively.
The elemental compositions of the body tissue
components are given in Table II. Three types of
carbohydrate (chondroitin sulphate, monosaccharide and
polysaccharide) and four types of lipid (cerebroside,
cholesterol, glycerol trioleate and sphingomyelin) have
been used.
Table III lists the elemental composition (%, by
mass), mass density, volume and mass electron
densities of each body tissue. Gallbladder wall,
gastrointestinal tractoesophagus and urinary bladder
wall are not included as the composition of muscle
skeletal was accepted as being representative of these
tissues. Lymph is also omitted from the table because of
its similarity to blood plasma.
DISCUSSION
The tabulated elemental data given here for body
tissues represent a reassessment and updating of the
TABLE I
WATER, LIPID, PROTEIN AND ASH COMPONENTS OF THE BODY TISSUES CONSIDERED IN THIS STUDY
Body tissue
Adipose tissue I
Adipose tissue 2
Adipose tissue 3
Adrenal gland
Aorta
Blooderythrocytes
Bloodplasma
Bloodwhole
Braincerebrospinal
fluid
Braingrey matter
Brainwhite matter
Connective tissue
Eye lens
Gallbladderwall
Gallbladderbile
Percentage by
Water
30.5
21.2
11.4
58.1
72.1
64.0
91.9
79.0
99.0
82.6
68.5
60.4
64.1
88.4
mass
Lipid
61.4
74.1
87.3
26.0
1.8
0.5
0.7
0.6

5.3t
18.lt
1.0
2.0
As muscle
0.9
Protein
7.9
4.4
1.0
15.5
25.0
34.7
6.6
19.6

10.0
11.5
36.6
33.6
skeletal
0.4
Other

0.1
(monosaccharide)
0.1
(monosaccharide)
0.1
(monosaccharide)
0.1
(monosaccharide)
1.0
(monosaccharide)
1.0
(monosaccharide)
0.9
(monosaccharide)

5.4 (cholic acid)


4.1 (mucin)
Ash (minerals*)
0.3 (0.2)
0.3 (0.3)
0.3 (0.3)
0.5 (0.4)
1.4 (1.1)
1.1 (0.7)
1.0 (0.7)
0.9 (0.7)
0.9 (0.9)
1.5 (1.1)
1.4 (0.9)
1.3 (1.1)
0.4 (0.3)
0.9 (0.8)
1213
VOL. 59, No. 708
H. Q. Woodard and D. R. White
TABLE Icontinued
Body tissue
GI tractsmall intestine
(wall)
GI tractoesophagus
GI tractstomach
Heart 1
Heart 2
Heart 3
Heartblood-filled
Kidney 1
Kidney 2
Kidney 3
Liver 1
Liver 2
Liver 3
Lungparenchyma
Lungblood filled
Lymph
Mammary gland 1
Mammary gland 2
Mammary gland 3
Muscleskeletal 1
Muscleskeletal 2
Muscleskeletal 3
Ovary
Pancreas
Prostate
Skeletoncartilage
Skeletoncortical bone
Skeletonred marrow
Skeletonspongiosa
Skeletonyellow marrow
Skin 1
Skin 2
Skin 3
Spleen
Testis
Thyroid
Trachea
Urinary bladderwall
Urinary bladderurine
Urinary bladderempty
Urinary bladderfilled
Percentage 1
Water
80.6
76.3
71.0
75.9
80.9
77.7
72.3
76.6
80.5
72.8
74.5
75.6
80.6
79.8
30.2
51.4
72.6
70.0
74.1
78.6
82.8
73.3
83.3
75.0
12.2
39.7
As 33%
by mass
Lipic
5.9
6.2
10.0
6.2
2.4
2.8
6.9
4.8
2.8
7.8
4.6
1.5
1.3
1.0
56.2
30.9
5.6
6.8
4.2
1.6
2.3
12.8
1.2

39.7
1 Protein
13.0
As muscleskeletal
17.0
18.2
17.1
15.9
18.6
19.9
17.7
15.8
16.1
17.6
19.6
17.1
18.2
As bloodplasma
13.3
17.4
21.5
21.3
19.8
17.9
14.0
13.1
15.0
11.0
24.6
20.0
Other

0.1
(monosaccharide)
2.2
(polysaccharide)
2.2
(polysaccharide)
2.2
(polysaccharide)

1.0
(polysaccharide)
1.0
(polysaccharide)
1.0
(polysaccharide)

11.0
(chondroitin
sulphate)
5.2
(monosaccharide)

skeletoncortical bone+ 67% marrow, by mass


(marrow assumed to I
15.3
58.6
65.3
72.1
78.7
82.7
78.4
80.4
13.5
9.4
5.2
1.8
4.5
4.4
)e 50% red marrow+ 50% yellow marrow)
4.0
27.2
24.6
22.0
18.6
12.0
14.0

2.5
(monosaccharide)
As 90% muscleskeletal + 10% cartilage (by mass)
96.3
As
As

As muscleskeletal

66% muscleskeletal+ 34% urine,


22% muscleskeletal+ 78% urine,
2.4
(urea)
by mass
by mass
Ash (minerals*)
0.7 (0.5)
0.8 (0.5)
0.9 (0.8)
0.9 (0.8)
0.9 (0.8)
0.9 (0.8)
0.9 (0.9)
0.9 (0.9)
0.9 (0.9)
1.2 (1.1)
1.2 (1.1)
1.2 (1.1)
1.1 (1.0)
1.0 (1.0)
0.4 (0.3)
0.4 (0.3)
0.4 (0.3)
1.0 (0.9)
1.0 (0.9)
1.0 (0.9)
1.0 (0.9)
1.2 (0.8)
1.1 (0.5)
3.0 (3.0)
58.0 (58.0)
0.6 (0.6)
0.5 (0.3)
0.7 (0.7)
0.7 (0.7)
0.7 (0.7)
1.3 (0.9)
1.1 (0.8)
1.1 (0.7)
0.9 (1.3)
*Includes remaining elements with Z > 8.
tLipid in brain assumed to be 50% sphingomyelin + 25% cerebroside + 25% cholesterol, by mass.
1214
DECEMBER 1986
The composition of body tissues
TABLE II
THE ELEMENTAL COMPOSITIONS OF THE BODY TISSUE COMPONENTS
Component Elemental composition (% by mass)
Carbohydratechondroitin sulphate
Carbohydratemonosaccharide
Carbohydratepolysaccharide
Cholic acid
Lipidcerebroside
Lipidcholesterol
Lipidglycerol trioleate
Lipidsphingomyelin
Mucin
Protein
Urea
Water
H(4.6), C(36.0), N(3.0), O(48.8), S(7.0)
H(6.7), C(40.0), O(53.3)
H(6.2), C(44.5), O(49.3)
H(9.9), C(70.5), O(19.6)
H(9.8), C(63.5), N(3.0), O(23.7)
H(12.0), C(83.9), O(4.1)
H(11.8),C(77.4), 0(10.8)
H(11.7), C(68.9), N(3.9), O(11.2), P(4.3)
H(4.8), C(34.3), 0(60.9)
H(6.6), C(53.4), N(17.0), 0(22.0), S(1.0)
H(6.7), C(20.0), N(46.7), O(26.6)
), O(88.8)
The elemental compositions quoted for carbohydrates, lipids and proteins are the averages of variable biological substances.
TABLE III
THE ELEMENTAL COMPOSITIONS OF THE BODY TISSUES
Body tissue
Adipose tissue 1
Adipose tissue 2
Adipose tissue 3
Adrenal gland
Aorta
Blooderythrocytes
Bloodplasma
Bloodwhole
Braincerebrospinal
fluid
Braingrey matter
Brainwhite matter
Connective tissue
Eye lens
Gallbladderbile
Gastrointestinal tract
small intestine (wall)
Gastrointenstinal tract
stomach
Heart 1
Heart 2
Heart 3
Heartblood filled
Kidney 1
Kidney 2
Kidney 3
Liver 1
Liver 2
Liver 3
Lungparenchyma
Lungblood-filled
Elemental composition (% by mass)
H
11.2
11.4
11.6
10.6
9.9
9.5
10.8
10.2
11.1
10.7
10.6
9.4
9.6
10.8
10.6
10.4
10.3
10.4
10.4
10.3
10.2
10.3
10.4
10.3
10.2
10.1
10.3
10.3
C
51.7
59.8
68.1
28.4
14.7
19.0
4.1
11.0

9.5
19.4
20.7
19.5
6.1
11.5
13.9
17.5
13.9
10.3
12.1
16.0
13.2
10.6
15.6
13.9
12.6
10.1
10.5
N
1.3
0.7
0.2
2.6
4.2
5.9
1.1
3.3

1.8
2.5
6.2
5.7
0.1
2.2
2.9
3.1
2.9
2.7
3.2
3.4
3.0
2.7
2.7
3.0
3.3
2.9
3.1
O
35.5
27.8
19.8
57.8
69.8
64.6
83.2
74.5
88.0
76.7
66.1
62.2
64.6
82.2
75.1
72.1
68.1
71.8
75.6
73.4
69.3
72.4
75.2
70.1
71.6
72.7
75.5
74.9
Elements with Z > 8
Na(0.1),
Na(0.1),
Na(0.1),
S(0.1), Cl(0.1)
S(0.1), Cl(0.1)
S(0.1), Cl(0.1)
P(0.1), S(0.2), Cl(0.2), K(0.1)
Na(0.2), P(0.4), S(0.3), K(0.1), Ca(0.4)
P(0.1), S(0.3), Cl(0.2), K(0.3), Fe (0.1)
Na(0.3),
Na(0.1),
Na(0.5),
Na(0.2),
Na(0.2),
Na(0.6),
Na(0.1),
Na(0.4),
Na(0.1),
Na(0.1),
Na(0.1),
Na(0.1),
Na(0.1),
Na(0.1),
Na(0.2),
S(0.1), Cl(0.4)
P(0.1), S(0.2), Cl(0.3), K(0.2),
Cl(0.4)
P(0.3), S(0.2), Cl(0.3), K(0.3)
P(0.4), S(0.2), Cl(0.3), K(0.3)
S(0.6), Cl(0.3)
P(0.1), S(0.3), Cl(0.1)
Cl(0.4)
P(0.1), S(0.1), Cl(0.2), K(0.1)
P(0.1), S(0.2), Cl(O.l), K(0.2)
P(0.2), S(0.2), Cl(0.2), K(0.3)
P(0.2), S(0.2), Cl(0.2), K(0.3)
P(0.2), S(0.2), Cl(0.2), K(0.3)
P(0.1), S(0.2), Cl(0.3), K(0.2),
P(0.2), S(0.2), Cl(0.2), K(0.2),
Na(0.2), P(0.2), S(0.2), Cl(0.2), K(0.2),
Na(0.2),
Na(0.2),
Na(0.2),
Na(0.2),
Na(0.2),
Na(0.2),
P(0.2), S(0.2), Cl(0.2), K(0.2),
P(0.3), S(0.3), Cl(0.2), K(0.3)
P(0.3), S(0.3), Cl(0.2), K(0.3)
P(0.3), S(0.3), Cl(0.2), K(0.3)
P(0.2), S(0.3), Cl(0.3), K(0.2)
P(0.2), S(0.3), Cl(0.3), K(0.2)
Fe(0.
Fe(0.
Ca(0.
Ca(0.
Ca(0.
1)
1)
1)
1)
1)
Densities
Mass
kgm"
970
950
930
1030
1050
1090
1026
1060
1010
1040
1040
1120
1070
1030
1030
1050
1050
1050
1050
1060
1050
1050
1050
1050
1060
1070
1050
1050*
Electron
3
el. kg"
1
xl O
26
3.342
3.347
3.353
3.324
3.304
3.291
3.330
3.312
3.339
3.327
3.324
3.288
3.295
3.330
3.325
3.319
3.315
3.318
3.318
3.315
3.312
3.315
3.318
3.315
3.312
3.309
3.315
3.315
el. m~
3
xl O
26
3241
3180
3118
3424
3469
3588
3417
3511
3373
3460
3457
3683
3525
3430
3424
3485
3481
3484
3484
3514
3478
3481
3484
3480
3511
3541
3481
3481
1215
VOL. 59, No. 708
H. Q. Woodard and D. R. White
TABLE IIIcontinued
Body tissue
Elemental composition (% by mass) Densities
Mass Electron
H C N O Elements with Z > kg m
3
el. kg
x 10
21
x 10
2
Mammary gland 1
Mammary gland 2
Mammary gland 3
Muscleskeletal 1
Muscleskeletal 2
Muscleskeletal 3
Ovary
Pancreas
Prostate
Skeletoncartilage
Skeletoncortical bone
Skeletonred marrow
Skeletonspongiosa
Skeletonyellow marrow
Skin 1
Skin 2
Skin 3
Spleen
Testis
Thyroid
Trachea
Urinary bladderurine
Urinary bladderempty
Urinary bladderfilled
10.9
10.6
10.2
10.1
10.2
10.2
10.5
10.6
10.5
9.6
3.4
10.5
8.5
11.5
10.0
10.0
10.1
10.3
10.6
10.4
10.1
11.0
10.5
10.8
50.6
33.2
15.8
17.1
14.3
11.2
9.3
16.9
8.9
9.9
15.5
41.4
40.4
64.4
25.0
20.4
15.8
11.3
9.9
11.9
13.9
0.5
9.6
3.5
2.3
3.0
3.7
3.6
3.4
3.0
2.4
2.2
2.5
2.2
4.2
3.4
2.8
0.7
4.6
4.2
3.7
3.2
2.0
2.4
3.3
1.0
2.6
1.5
35.8 Na(0.1), P(0.1), S(0.1), Cl(0.1) 990 3.333 3299
52.7 Na(0.1), P(0.1), S(0.2), Cl(0.1) 1020 3.324 3391
69.8 Na(0.1), P(0.1), S(0.2), Cl(0.1) 1060 3.313 3512
68.1 Na(0.1), P(0.2), S(0.3), Cl(0.1), K(0.4) 1050 3.309 3475
71.0 Na(0.1), P(0.2), S(0.3), Cl(0.1), K(0.4) 1050 3.312 3478
74.5 Na(0.1), P(0.2), S(0.3), Cl(0.1), K(0.4) 1050 3.312 3478
76.8 Na(0.2), P(0.2), S(0.2), Cl(0.2), K(0.2) 1050 3.321 3487
69.4 Na(0.2), P(0.2), S(0.1), Cl(0.2), K(0.2) 1040 3.324 3457
77.4 Na(0.2), P(0.1), S(0.2), K(0.2) 1040 3.322 3455
74.4 Na(0.5), P(2.2), S(0.9), Cl(0.3) 1100 3.292 3622
43.5 Na(0.1), Mg(0.2), P(10.3), S(0.3), Ca(22.5) 1920 3.100 5952
43.9 P(0.1), S(0.2), Cl(0.2), K(0.2), Fe(O.l) 1030 3.321 3420
36.7 Na(0.1), Mg(0.1), P(3.4), S(0.2), Cl(0.2), K(0.1), 1180 3.258 3844
Ca(7.4), Fe(O.f)
23.1 Na(0.1), S(0.1), Cl(O.l) 980 3.350 3283
59.4 Na(0.2), P(0.1), S(0.3), Cl(0.3), K(0.1) 1090 3.306 3604
64.5 Na(0.2), P(0.1), S(0.2), Cl(0.3), K(0.1) 1090 3.306 3604
69.5 Na(0.2), P(0.1), S(0.2), Cl(0.3), K(0.1) 1090 3.309 3607
74.1 Na(0.1), P(0.3), S(0.2), Cl(0.2), K(0.3) 1060 3.315 3514
76.6 Na(0.2), P(0.1), S(0.2), Cl(0.2), K(0.2) 1040 3.324 3457
74.5 Na(0.2), P(0.1), S(0.1), Cl(0.2), K(0.1), 1(0.1) 1050 3.318 3484
71.3 Na(0.1), P(0.4), S(0.4), Cl(O.l), K(0.4) 1060 3.309 3508
86.2 Na(0.4), P(0.1), Cl(0.6), K(0.2) 1020 3.336 3403
76.1 Na(0.2), P(0.2), S(0.2), Cl(0.3), K(0.3) 1040 3.321 3454
83.0 Na(0.3), P(0.1), S(0.1), Cl(0.5), K(0.2) 1030 3.330 3430
*Mass density of the inflated lung is often quoted as 260 kg m
compositions reported by ICRP (1975). As such, the
new data remove many of the discrepancies and
anomalies present in older studies. Consequently, there
may be appreciable differences in C, H, N and O
contents compared with previous published data
relating to "average" or "typical" body tissues.
For seven tissues (adipose tissue, heart, kidney, liver,
mammary gland, muscleskeletal and skin) sufficient
reliable data were available to establish the expected
spread in composition. Certain of these, such as adipose
tissue (lipid: 61.4-87.3% by mass) and mammary gland
(lipid: 5.6-56.2% by mass), exhibited widely varying
compositions. On the other hand, the results for liver
(water: 72.8-75.6% by mass) were less variable.
The mean composition for muscleskeletal (No. 2)
is very close to that published by ICRU (1964). In that
publication the H, C, N and O contents were 10.2%,
12.3%, 3.5% and 72.9% by mass, respectively,
compared with 10.2%, 14.3%, 3.4% and 71.0% by
mass in this study. This differs from the composition
given by ICRP (1975), which appears to include certain
protein data from paediatric sources, resulting in a
lower nitrogen content.
A major problem with the derivation of mean body
tissue compositions is the variability of reported data.
This is due to a multitude of reasons: age, sex and state
TABLE IV
THE ELEMENTAL COMPOSITIONS AND MASS DENSITIES OF ADULT AND CHILD CORTICAL BONE (WOODARD, 1986)
Sample Elemental composition (% by mass)
H N O Others
Mass
density
kgm~
3
24 adults (20-74 years)
10 children (6-13 years)
4 children (2-5 years)
Perinatal rhesus monkey
3.4
3.9
4.0
6.7
15.5
15.8
15.7
15.2
4.2
4.4
4.5
4.9
43.5
45.0
45.4
56.7
0.1 Na, 0.2 Mg, 10.3 P, 0.3 S, 22.5 Ca 1920
0.2 Mg, 9.8 P, 20.9 Ca 1830
0.2 Mg, 10.1 P, 20.1 Ca 1800
0.1 Mg, 5.0 P, 11.4Ca 1400
1216
DECEMBER 1986
The composition of body tissues
of health of the subject and the differing experimental
procedures adopted for the analyses. The variation with
age is demonstrated in Table IV, which includes
previously unpublished data on the cortical bones of
paediatric subjects measured by one of the authors
(H.Q.W.). The wetter, younger bones are seen to have
less calcium and lower mass densities than the adult
counterparts.
More comprehensive measurements on the composi-
tions of healthy adult body tissues are urgently needed.
Recent studies have tended to concentrate on trace-
elements, ignoring the important elements H, C, N and
O, which make up some 99% by mass of soft tissues.
The high-atomic-number elements, Na, P, S, Cl, K and
Ca, are important at low and high photon energies in
both soft and skeletal tissues and their presence may
affect radiation dosimetry (Laughlin et al, 1987). In
particular, adipose tissue (subcutaneous deposits, intra-
abdominal and yellow marrow), gastrointestinal tract-
intestine (small and large), liver, muscleskeletal,
skeletoncartilage, skeletonred marrow and urinary
bladder wall need more investigation. Similar measure-
ments are also required for diseased and paediatric
body tissues.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The authors wish to thank ICRU and the Joint Research
Board of St Bartholomew's Hospital for funding part of this
work. Miss S. M. Hill is thanked for her help in the
compilation of the data. The useful comments of Dr E.
Widdowson are gratefully acknowledged.
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