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A new approach to amino acid racemization in enamel: testing of a less destructive sampling methodology

Griffin, Rebecca Clare; Moody, Howard; Penkman, Kirsty E.H.; Fagan, Michael J.; Curtis, Neil and Collins, Matthew J. (2008) A new approach to amino acid racemization in enamel: testing of a less destructive sampling methodology. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 53 (4). pp. 910-916. ISSN 1556-4029 (Online); 0022-1198 (Print)

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Aspartic acid racemization has been found to be an accurate measure of age at death for recent forensic material. This paper examines the practicality of using acid etching of the tooth surface to extract amino acids from the enamel for racemization analysis. By serial etching of the tooth and contamination of the teeth with BSA prior to etching, the ability of etching to remove contamination was assessed. The destructiveness of the method was visualised and quantified using micro-CT. By bleaching the teeth and by deeper etching it was possible to obtain more consistent values. While etching had little effect on the enamel at the macroscale, it did have an impact at the microscale. The quantities of enamel removed varied depending upon the tooth morphology, but were not large. Acid etching of enamel thus appears to be a promising new method for extracting proteins for amino acid racemization age estimation non-invasively.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Published Online: 4 Jun 2008
Uncontrolled Keywords:forensic science; forensic anthropology; amino acid racemization; age estimation; enamel; acid etching; contamination
Subjects:R Medicine > RK Dentistry
Departments, Research Centres and Related Units:Academic Faculties, Institutes and Research Centres > Faculty of Medicine > School of Dental Sciences
Publisher's Statement:© 2008 American Academy of Forensic Sciences. The definitive version is available at, and through
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ID Code:346
Deposited On:14 Jul 2008 12:19
Last Modified:13 Apr 2012 10:53

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