PloS one

Glycation of nail proteins: from basic biochemical findings to a representative marker for diabetic glycation-associated target organ damage.

PMID 25781337


Although assessment of glycated nail proteins may be a useful marker for monitoring of diabetes, their nature and formation are still poorly understood. Besides a detailed anatomical analysis of keratin glycation, the usefulness of glycated nail protein assessment for monitoring diabetic complications was investigated. 216 patients (94 males, 122 females; mean age ± standard deviation: 75.0 ± 8.7 years) were enrolled. Glycation of nail and eye lens proteins was assessed using a photometric nitroblue tetrazolium-based assay. Following chromatographic separation of extracted nail proteins, binding and nonbinding fractions were analyzed using one-dimensional gel electrophoresis. Using a hand piece containing a latch-type-bur, a meticulous cutting of the nail plate into superficial and deep layers was performed, followed by a differential analysis of fructosamine. Using SDS PAGE, four and two bands were identified among the nonglycated and glycated nail fraction respectively. Significantly lower fructosamine concentrations were found in the superficial nail layer (mean: 2.16 ± 1.37 μmol/g nails) in comparison with the deep layer (mean: 4.36 ± 2.55 μmol/g nails) (P<0.05). A significant higher amount of glycated eye lens proteins was found in diabetes mellitus patients (mean: 3.80 ± 1.57 μmol/g eye lens) in comparison with nondiabetics (mean: 3.35 ± 1.34 μmol/g eye lens) (P<0.05). A marked correlation was found between glycated nail and glycated eye lens proteins [y (glycated nail proteins) = 0.39 + 0.99 x (eye lens glycated proteins); r2 = 0.58, P<0.001]. The concentration of glycated eye lens proteins and the HbA1c level were found to be predictors of the concentration of glycated nail proteins. Glycation of nail proteins takes place in the deep layer of finger nails, which is in close contact with blood vessels and interstitial fluid. Glycation of nail proteins can be regarded as a representative marker for diabetic glycation-associated target organ damage.