Methods for determination of fingernail steroids by LC/MS/MS and differences in their contents between right and left hands

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Fingernail clipping is expected to be a specimen for steroid testing, because it has several advantages over blood; i.e., noninvasive collection, ease of storage, portability and handling, and possibility for an assessment of the steroid status over a relatively long and retrospective time window. In this study, we examined whether there is a difference in the nail contents between the right and left hands for five steroids [glycochenodeoxycholic acid (GCDCA), taurochenodeoxycholic acid (TCDCA), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), testosterone (TST) and cortisol (CRT)] using newly developed liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry methods. The nail contents between the hands were significantly different for GCDCA, TCDCA and DHEAS, whereas those of TST and CRT only slightly differed. These results might be due to the difference in the binding affinity of each steroid for the nail keratin. The relatively hydrophilic steroids, GCDCA, TCDCA and DHEAS, may be lost from nails in daily life due to their low affinity for keratin, which would produce differences in the nail contents between the hands. Thus, the fingernail GCDCA, TCDCA and DHEAS contents may be influenced by factors other than the disease; the nail analysis is inefficient in the diagnosis of the disease associated with these steroids. On the other hand, the nail analysis looks promising for evaluation of the status of TST and CRT, which are lipophilic and inferred to be tightly bound to the keratin. In fact, the nail TST content showed a significant sex difference, just like its serum/plasma concentration.

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