Molecular composition of the louse sheath

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:1999
Authors:C. N. Burkhart, Stankiewicz, B. A., Pchalek, I., Kruge, M. A., Burkhart, C. G.
Journal:Journal of Parasitology
Pagination:559 - 561
Date Published:1999
Keywords:Amino Acids, animals, Fatty Acids/analysis, Insect proteins, Mass Fragmentography, Pediculus, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Flash pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry was used to assess the chemical composition of the head louse's nit sheath. The pyrolyzate of the female insect's secretions, which form a cement-like cylinder holding the egg onto the hair, is dominated by amino acid derivatives and fatty acids. No chitin-specific compounds were detected in the sheath. These results, contrary to previous reports, show that the polymeric complex of the sheath is composed of proteinaceous moieties, possibly cross-linked to aliphatic components. This study constitutes the first chemical characterization of the pyrolysis products of insect (louse) glue and unequivocally confirms that louse sheaths are not chitinous, as suggested by earlier histochemical studies. Development of agents that might loosen nits from the hair shaft is dependent on research that addresses the chemical composition of the nit sheath.

Taxonomic name: 
File attachments: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith