The impact of burial period on compact bone microstructure: histological analysis of matrix loss and cell integrity in human bones exhumed from tropical soil

Rafael Dias Astolphi, Maria Teresa Seixas Alves, Martin Evison, Raffaela Arrabaça Francisco, Marco Aurélio Guimarães, Edna Sadayo Miazato Iwamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Human bone histological analysis is a useful tool to assess post mortem diagenesis and to predict successful nuclear DNA typing of forensic material. This study is part of a series of studies developed by the authors intended to improve the understanding of post mortem diagenesis and to develop applications for DNA analysis of skeletal species from tropical soils, in order to optimize genetic and anthropological protocols. The aim of this study was to analyze the impact of burial period on the integrity of exhumed compact bone microstructure from tropical climate. In fragments of exhumed human femora from 39 individuals from the same cemetery (exhumed group) and 5 fresh femora from routine autopsies (control group), sections stained by hematoxylin-eosin were analyzed in order to measure bone microstructural integrity. We found that bone integrity index in exhumed group was negatively influenced by the period of burial (r=-0.37, p<0.05) and highly significantly decreased (p<0.0001) in comparison to control group. The period of burial and nitric acid decalcification time was positively correlated (r=0.51; p<0.01), leading to imply a bone petrification process during inhumation. Exhumed group showed higher level of matrix bone loss (p<0.001), as expected, and 87% of cases analyzed were “tunneled” as described by Hackett. Bone integrity index and bone matrix tend to decrease in bones buried in tropical soil between 8-14 years of inhumation. This period is short if we consider cases in which there are preserved bones interred for longer periods in other environments. These data must be considered in cases where genetic identification of exhumed skeletons from tropical environment is required. The diagenesis in these bones and the variations of results found are discussed, clarifying some challenges for forensic laboratories, especially in DNA analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-392
Number of pages9
JournalForensic Science International
Volume298
Early online date14 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of burial period on compact bone microstructure: histological analysis of matrix loss and cell integrity in human bones exhumed from tropical soil'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this