Investigation by imaging mass spectrometry of biomarker candidates for aging in the hair cortex

Michihiko Luca Waki, Kenji Onoue, Tsukasa Takahashi, Kensuke Goto, Yusuke Saito, Katsuaki Inami, Ippei Makita, Yurika Angata, Tomomi Suzuki, Mihi Yamashita, Narumi Sato, Saki Nakamura, Dai Yuki, Yuki Sugiura, Nobuhiro Zaima, Naoko Goto-Inoue, Takahiro Hayasaka, Yutaka Shimomura, Mitsutoshi Setou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Human hair is one of the essential components that define appearance and is a useful source of samples for non-invasive biomonitoring. We describe a novel application of imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) of hair biomolecules for advanced molecular characterization and a better understanding of hair aging. As a cosmetic and biomedical application, molecules whose levels in hair altered with aging were comprehensively investigated. Methods: Human hair was collected from 15 young (20±5 years old) and 15 older (50±5 years old) volunteers. Matrix-free laser desorption/ionization IMS was used to visualize molecular distribution in the hair sections. Hair-specific ions displaying a significant difference in the intensities between the 2 age groups were extracted as candidate markers for aging. Tissue localization of the molecules and alterations in their levels in the cortex and medulla in the young and old groups were determined. Results: Among the 31 molecules detected specifically in hair sections, 2-one at m/z 153.00, tentatively assigned to be dihydrouracil, and the other at m/z 207.04, identified to be 3,4-dihydroxymandelic acid (DHMA)-exhibited a higher signal intensity in the young group than in the old, and 1 molecule at m/z 164.00, presumed to be O-phosphoethanolamine, displayed a higher intensity in the old group. Among the 3, putative O-phosphoethanolamine showed a cortex-specific distribution. The 3 molecules in cortex presented the same pattern of alteration in signal intensity with aging, whereas those in medulla did not exhibit significant alteration. Conclusion: Three molecules whose levels in hair altered with age were extracted. While they are all possible markers for aging, putative dihydrouracil and DHMA, are also suspected to play a role in maintaining hair properties and could be targets for cosmetic supplementation. Mapping of ion localization in hair by IMS is a powerful method to extract biomolecules in specified regions and determine their tissue distribution.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere26721
JournalPloS one
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Oct 24
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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