Concentrations of Some Trace Elements in Hair, Liver and Kidney From Autopsy Subjects -- Relationship Between Hair and Internal Organs

Autopsy samples of hair, liver and kidney cortex from 30 Swedish subjects (Caucasian) were analysed for Ag, Co, Cr, Hg, Sb, Se and Zn by neutron activation analysis (NAA). The following elements were observed to have higher concentrations in hair than in liver and kidney cortex: Ag,(Co), Cr and Hg (on a dry weight basis). Selenium was highly concentrated in kidney cortex, and Fe in liver. The observed concentrations of most of the elements were very variable for each tissue. In particular, Co values for hair showed more than a 5000-fold difference. However, Se values for hair were relatively constant. A highly significant positive correlation was observed between Hg concentrations in hair and kidney cortex. Somewhat weaker correlations were found between Hg in kidney cortex and liver and Se in hair and kidney cortex. The concentration of Co in liver correlated with that in kidney cortex. It was concluded that, with the exception of mercury, and to a lesser degree selenium, hair analysis did not provide a useful measure of the trace element status of the subjects included in this study.

Y. Muramatsu and R.M. Parr (The Science of the Total Environment, 76 (1988) 29-40)