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Scholarly Communication

Application of amino acid racemization in enamel to the estimation of the age of human teeth

Griffin, R.C.; Moody, H.; Penkman, K.E.H. and Collins, M.J. (2008) Application of amino acid racemization in enamel to the estimation of the age of human teeth. Forensic Science International, 175 (1). pp. 11-16. ISSN 0379-0738

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Estimation of age-at-death for skeletonised forensic remains is one of the most significant problems in forensic anthropology. The majority of existing morphological and histological techniques are highly inaccurate, and show a bias towards underestimating the age of older individuals. One technique which has been successful in forensic age estimation is amino acid racemization in dentine. However, this method cannot be used on remains where the post-mortem interval is greater than 20 years. An alternative approach is to measure amino acid racemization in dental enamel, which is believed to be more resistant to change post-mortem. The extent of amino acid racemization in the acid soluble fraction of the enamel proteins was determined for modern known age teeth. A strong correlation was observed between the age of the tooth and the extent of racemization. No systematic bias in the direction of age estimation errors was detected. For the majority of teeth analyzed, the presence of dental caries did not affect the results obtained. In a minority of cases, carious teeth showed a higher level of racemization than would be expected given the age of the individual. These results indicate that amino acid racemization in enamel has the potential to be used in age estimation of skeletal remains.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Available online 18 June 2007. Issue: 25 February 2008.
Uncontrolled Keywords:aspartic acid; serine; age estimation; enamel
Subjects:R Medicine > RK Dentistry
Departments, Research Centres and Related Units:Academic Faculties, Institutes and Research Centres > Faculty of Medicine > School of Dental Sciences
ID Code:333
Deposited On:30 Sep 2008 15:16
Last Modified:20 May 2011 17:11

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