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The application of amino acid racemization in the acid soluble fraction of enamel to the estimation of the age of human teeth

By R. C. Griffin, H. Moody, K. E. H. Penkman and M. J. Collins

Abstract

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 modem 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. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved

Topics: 1311, 1602, 2734, 2738
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2007.04.226
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:3746

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