Keratin made micro-tubes: The paradoxical thermal behavior of cortex and cuticle

Daniel Istrate, Meriem Er Rafik, Crisan Popescu, Dan E. Demco, Larisa Tsarkova, Franz Wortmann

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    Keratin micro-tubes were obtained by heating medullated keratin fibres to temperatures above 230 °C under nitrogen atmosphere, when, as documented by microscopy, the cortex (the core of the fibre) melts from the medulla outwards, followed by pyrolysis of the material through the remaining solid cuticle (shell) layer. The resulted hollow tubes from fibres void of cortical material keep the external cuticle structure, as shown by AFM investigation, and the moisture sorption properties of the initial keratin fibre. Despite similar amino-acid compositions of cuticle and cortex the two morphological components differ significantly in their thermal behaviour, which appears to be a "cortex-cuticle thermal stability paradox".

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)592-598
    Number of pages7
    JournalInternational Journal of Biological Macromolecules
    Early online date11 May 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


    • Cuticle
    • Keratin fibre
    • Micro-tubes
    • Thermal stability


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