Copper Content of Hair and Nails of Normal Individuals and of Patients with Hepatolenticular Degeneration
INCREASED accumulations of copper have been demonstrated in many tissues of patients suffering from hepatolenticular degeneration (Wilson's disease)1; the corneal depositions2 are considered pathognomonic. In some patients, a striking deep-blue colour can be observed in the finger nails, principally in the lunulæ3. The demonstration of elevated copper concentrations in such readily accessible tissues as hair and nails would be an extremely useful adjunct to diagnosis. My investigations along these lines have been frustrated by the difficulty in obtaining material from patients who have not been treated with the various chelating agents. The only other investigation known to me4 also suffers from this deficiency. I believe that copper assays on finger nails may prove to be useful in the diagnosis of Wilson's disease, and present my limited data in the hope that additional samples will be made available to me or to other investigators so that the question can be definitively settled.