Forensic proteomics for the evaluation of the post-mortem decay in bones

Noemi Procopio, Anna Williams, Andrew T. Chamberlain, Michael Buckley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Current methods for evaluation the of post-mortem interval (PMI) of skeletal remains suffer from poor accuracy due to the great number of variables that affect the diagenetic process and to the lack of specific guidelines to address this issue. During decomposition, proteins can undergo cumulative decay over the time, resulting in a decrease in the range and abundance of proteins present (i.e., the proteome) in different tissues as well as in an increase of post-translational modifications occurring in these proteins. In this study, we investigate the applicability of bone proteomic analyses to simulated forensic contexts, looking for specific biomarkers that may help the estimation of PMI, as well as evaluate a previously discovered marker for the estimation of biological age. We noticed a reduction of particular plasma and muscle proteins with increasing PMIs, as well as an increased deamidation of biglycan, a protein with a role in modulating bone growth and mineralization. We also corroborated our previous results regarding the use of fetuin-A as a potential biomarker for the estimation of age-at-death, demonstrating the applicability and the great potential that proteomics may have towards forensic sciences.

The estimation of the post-mortem interval has a key role in forensic investigations, however nowadays it still suffers from poor reliability, especially when body tissues are heavily decomposed. Here we propose for the first time the application of bone proteomics to the estimation of the time elapsed since death and found several new potential biomarkers to address this, demonstrating the applicability of proteomic analyses to forensic sciences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Proteomics
Early online date31 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2018


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