Nail Properties and Bone Health: A Review

J Funct Biomater. 2018 Apr 23;9(2):31. doi: 10.3390/jfb9020031.


Physicochemical properties of nail may offer valuable insight into the health of bone. Currently, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is the gold standard technique for evaluating bone health through bone mineral density (BMD). However, only 70% of fractures are explained by low BMD according to DXA. Therefore, the World Health Organisation recommended the need for the development of alternative methods of assessing bone health. Keratin and collagen type I are major proteins in nail and bone, respectively. Both of these proteins undergo post-translational modifications, with a possible correlation between the degree of post-translational modifications in keratin and collagen. Raman spectroscopy is a technique used to detect changes in protein composition and structure. As changes in protein function and structure may be associated with the development of osteoporosis, Raman spectroscopy may be a valuable adjunct to assess bone health and fracture risk. This review critically evaluates various methods and techniques to identify the link between nail properties and bone health. The strengths and limitations of various studies and the potential use of nail protein and minerals to evaluate bone health have been also presented.

Keywords: Raman spectroscopy; bone mineral density; collagen; nail mineral composition; nail plate protein.

Publication types

  • Review