Identification of aminobiphenyl derivatives in commercial hair dyes

Robert J. Turesky, James P. Freeman, Ricky D. Holland, Daniel M. Nestorick, Dwight W. Miller, D. Luke Ratnasinghe, Fred F. Kadlubar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


A recent epidemiological study suggested that aromatic amines present in hair dyes may contribute to an increased risk of bladder cancer (Gago-Dominguez, et al. (2003) Carcinogenesis 24, 483-489). Moreover, a preliminary study linked frequent hair dye usage with elevated levels of DNA adducts of 4-aminobiphenyl (4-ABP) in human epithelial breast cells (Gorlewska, et al. Proc. Am. Assoc. Cancer Res. 43, 1018-1019). Therefore, we sought to determine if 4-ABP, a recognized human urinary bladder carcinogen, is present in commercial hair dyes. 4-ABP was isolated from dyes by solvent extraction with hexane, followed by silica gel chromatography, either with or without chemical treatment of the extract with Zinc/HCl, and a final purification with a mixed cation exchange reversed-phase resin. The identity of 4-ABP was confirmed by both HPLC with electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-ESI-MS/MS) and gas chromatography with negative ion chemical ionization mass spectrometry (GC-NICI-MS) following chemical derivatization with pentafluoropropionic anhydride (PFPA). The levels of 4-ABP ranged from not detectable (<0.29 parts per billion (ppb)) up to 12.8 ppb. The noncarcinogenic isomer 2-aminobiphenyl (2-ABP) was also found at quantities up to 310 ppb. 4-ABP was detected in eight of the 11 hair dyes and found in black, red, and blonde hair dyes but not in brown hair dyes. 1,4-Phenylenediamine (PPD) is a key constituent for color development of many permanent hair dyes. Some batches of chemical research grade PPD were contaminated with 4-ABP (up to 500 ppb) and 2-ABP (up to 70 parts per million) and may be a source of ABP contamination in hair dyes. These analytical data demonstrate that 4-ABP is present in some hair dyes. Studies on dermal absorption and bioavailability of 4-ABP from hair dyes are required to determine if this aromatic amine contributes to the increased risk of bladder cancer reported in frequent users of hair dyes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1162-1173
Number of pages12
JournalChemical research in toxicology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003


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