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

Marsden, Alistair James, Riley, David R J, Birkett, Stefan orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-0422-6843, Rodriguez-Barucg, Quentin, Guinn, Barbara-Ann, Carroll, Sean, Ingle, Lee, Sathyapalan, Thozhukat and Beltran-Alvarez, Pedro (2021) Love is in the hair: arginine methylation of human hair proteins as novel cardiovascular biomarkers. Amino acids . ISSN 0939-4451

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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.

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