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J Forensic Sci. 2011 May;56(3):720-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2010.01684.x. Epub 2011 Feb 3.

Bone marrow and bone as a source for postmortem RNA.

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  • 1Department of Archaeological Science, University of Bradford, Richmond Road, BD1 5DD Bradford, UK.


The susceptibility of RNA to enzymatic degradation has been considered as a tool to estimate time-since-death in forensic samples, and it has previously been demonstrated that the choice of tissue is an important factor. In this study we have extracted RNA from decaying bone and bone marrow under the hypothesis that the delayed onset of putrefaction may render them a useful source in this context. In a preliminary study, total RNA was extracted from bone and bone marrow that had been sampled from six skeletally mature rabbits at time points between zero and 31 days after death. The levels of three specific RNA transcripts could be quantified using real-time polymerase chain reaction. Bioanalyzer results show rRNA bands in bone marrow samples up to 21 days postmortem. We hereby propose bone marrow as a potential source for postmortem RNA in forensic studies.

© 2011 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

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