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J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 1988 Feb;34(1):67-78.

Influences of protein malnutrition on amino acid composition, trace metal elements and tensile strength of rat hairs.

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Food and Nutrition, Mukogawa Women's University, Nishinomiya, Japan.


We examined hair properties from determinations of diameter, amino acid composition, trace metal elements, and tensile strength of the hairs from protein-malnourished rats. The coarse or medium hair diameters of the experimental protein-malnourished rats had a tendency to decrease more than those of the control. Total contents of amino acids in the hairs had a tendency to decrease in the protein-deficient rats. Cystine content of rat hairs definitely decreased only in 5% wheat- and 5% rice-pattern amino acid mixture diet groups but not in 5% gluten diet and 5% casein diet groups. And many of the low-protein diet groups were significantly lower in methionine content than the control except for the 5% casein diet group. The Mg, Zn, and Fe contents in the hairs considerably increased in protein-deficient rats against the control. Tensile strength of coarse hairs in the experimental protein-malnourished rats was significantly lower than that of the control. The changes in amino acid composition of rat hair proteins are more likely to be influenced by various qualities of dietary protein or different compositions of amino acid mixtures in the diets at a similar dietary protein level. It should seriously be considered from our data whether the reduced cystine content in the hair can be regarded as an indicator of nutritional status.

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