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Ann Dermatol. 2013 Feb;25(1):67-72. doi: 10.5021/ad.2013.25.1.67. Epub 2013 Feb 14.

Reliability on intra-laboratory and inter-laboratory data of hair mineral analysis comparing with blood analysis.

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Department of Dermatology, Medical College, Dankook University, Cheonan, Korea.



Nowadays, although its clinical value remains controversial institutions utilize hair mineral analysis. Arguments about the reliability of hair mineral analysis persist, and there have been evaluations of commercial laboratories performing hair mineral analysis.


The objective of this study was to assess the reliability of intra-laboratory and inter-laboratory data at three commercial laboratories conducting hair mineral analysis, compared to serum mineral analysis.


Two divided hair samples taken from near the scalp were submitted for analysis at the same time, to all laboratories, from one healthy volunteer. Each laboratory sent a report consisting of quantitative results and their interpretation of health implications. Differences among intra-laboratory and interlaboratory data were analyzed using SPSS version 12.0 (SPSS Inc., USA).


All the laboratories used identical methods for quantitative analysis, and they generated consistent numerical results according to Friedman analysis of variance. However, the normal reference ranges of each laboratory varied. As such, each laboratory interpreted the patient's health differently. On intra-laboratory data, Wilcoxon analysis suggested they generated relatively coherent data, but laboratory B could not in one element, so its reliability was doubtful. In comparison with the blood test, laboratory C generated identical results, but not laboratory A and B.


Hair mineral analysis has its limitations, considering the reliability of inter and intra laboratory analysis comparing with blood analysis. As such, clinicians should be cautious when applying hair mineral analysis as an ancillary tool. Each laboratory included in this study requires continuous refinement from now on for inducing standardized normal reference levels.


Blood minerals; Hair minerals; Minerals; Scalp hair

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