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Love is in the hair: arginine methylation of human hair proteins as novel cardiovascular biomarkers

Marsden, Alistair James; Riley, David RJ; Birkett, Stefan; Rodriguez-Barucg, Quentin; Guinn, Barbara ann; Carroll, Sean; Ingle, Lee; Sathyapalan, Thozhukat; Beltran-Alvarez, Pedro


Alistair James Marsden

David RJ Riley

Stefan Birkett

Quentin Rodriguez-Barucg

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Dr Pedro Beltran-Alvarez
Senior Lecturer in Health and Climate Change and Programme co-Director of the MSc Health and Climate Change


Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of death worldwide. Extensive cardiovascular biomarkers are available using blood tests but very few, if any, investigations have described non-invasive tests for cardiovascular biomarkers based on readily available hair samples. Here we show, first, that human hair proteins are post-translationally modified by arginine methylation (ArgMe). Using western blot, proteomic data mining and mass spectrometry, we identify several ArgMe events in hair proteins and we show that keratin-83 is extensively modified by ArgMe in the human hair. Second, using a preliminary cohort (n = 18) of heterogenous healthy donors, we show that the levels of protein ArgMe in hair correlate with serum concentrations of a well-established cardiovascular biomarker, asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA). Compared to blood collection, hair sampling is cheaper, simpler, requires minimal training and carries less health and safety and ethical risks. For these reasons, developing the potential of hair protein ArgMe as clinically useful cardiovascular biomarkers through further research could be useful in future prevention and diagnosis of cardiovascular disease.


Marsden, A. J., Riley, D. R., Birkett, S., Rodriguez-Barucg, Q., Guinn, B. A., Carroll, S., …Beltran-Alvarez, P. (in press). Love is in the hair: arginine methylation of human hair proteins as novel cardiovascular biomarkers. Amino acids,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 17, 2021
Online Publication Date Jun 28, 2021
Deposit Date Jun 17, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jul 6, 2021
Journal Amino Acids
Print ISSN 0939-4451
Electronic ISSN 1438-2199
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Arginine methylation (ArgMe); Asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA); Biomarker; Cardiovascular disease (CVD); Hair; Post-translational modifications; (PTM) Protein
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© The Author(s) 2021.
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