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Research Article

Glycosylation of hair: possible measure of chronic hyperglycaemia.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984; 288 doi: (Published 03 March 1984) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984;288:669
  1. R B Paisey,
  2. J R Clamp,
  3. M J Kent,
  4. N D Light,
  5. M Hopton,
  6. M Hartog


    To determine whether hair is excessively glycosylated in diabetes mellitus 4 cm hair samples were taken proximally from behind the ear in 50 white non-diabetics and 46 diabetics. Hair glycosylation was assayed by a modification of the thiobarbituric acid reaction. Blood was taken from the diabetics at the same time for measurement of glycosylated haemoglobin concentration. The mean (1 SD) concentration of fructosamine (mumol/100 mg hair) was 0.054 (0.011) for normal hair. Glycosylation was not related to sex, age, or hair colour. The diabetics' hair was more heavily glycosylated (0.097 (0.045] than normal (p less than 0.01) and there was a correlation between hair glycosylation and the concentration of glycosylated haemoglobin in the diabetics (r = 0.71; p less than 0.01). Hair from non-diabetics showed a stable time related increase in glycosylation when incubated with glucose. Glycosylation of hair might provide a stable long term measure of tissue glycosylation, useful in the investigation of microvascular complications of diabetes mellitus.