Hair and nail analysis for the long-term monitoring of alcohol and drug consumption: focus on bioanalytical and correlation aspects

Date: 25 September 2018

Venue: UAntwerp, Campus Drie Eiken, Building Q, Auditorium O3 - Universiteitsplein 1 - 2610 Antwerp (Wilrijk)

Time: 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

PhD candidate: Delphine Cappelle

Principal investigator: Hugo Neels en Alexander van Nuijs

Short description: PhD defence Delphine Cappelle - Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences


In forensic and clinical toxicology, the determination and monitoring of exposure to and consumption of xenobiotics through the detection of reliable biomarkers in adequate matrices is crucial. Besides the ‘traditional’ matrices (including blood and urine), keratinized matrices, such as hair and nails, are of particular interest. The most important feature of keratinized matrices is the possibility to retrospectively assess substance use. Once substances are incorporated into hair or nails, they are no longer subject to biotransformation. As a consequence, many substances proved to be stable in keratinized matrices for prolonged periods of time, yielding a detection window of several months or years, depending on the hair or nail segment analysed.

The main objective of this PhD was to investigate the use of hair and nails as matrices for the long-term follow-up of alcohol and drug consumption, thereby expanding the detection window compared to the traditional matrices blood and urine. This main objective was subdivided into two aims. The first aim was to develop and to validate bioanalytical assays to measure biomarkers of alcohol and drugs of abuse consumption in hair and nails, while the second aim was to investigate the correlation between reported consumption of these substances and the presence of their biomarkers in hair and nails, on the one hand, and to evaluate the correlation between concentrations measured in both matrices, on the other hand.