Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Biotech Histochem. 2000 May;75(3):110-7.

Detection of DNA in ancient bones using histochemical methods.

Author information

  • 1Department of Evolutionary and Comparative Biology, University of Naples Federico II, Italy.


We describe histochemical techniques for detecting DNA within the osteocytic lacunae of ancient bones. The bones examined were fragments of femurs from two human individuals found in the Pompeian C. I. Polybius house and fragments of metacarpals from two horses (Equus sp.) found in the Pompeian "Casti Amanti" house. Both buildings were buried by the 79 A. D. Vesuvius eruption. Fragments of femurs from a modern horse, a modern swine and a modern amphibian also were studied as controls. Some bone sections were stained with two different DNA-specific fluorochromes, 4'-'6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) and chromomycin A3 (CMA), while others were stained by the Feulgen reaction. All of the techniques gave a positive reaction within the osteocytic lacunae. Histological analysis of the undecalcified, ground and unstained sections agreed well with results of bone sections stained with either the fluorochromes or the Feulgen reaction. Bones showing good histology also were positive by our DNA-specific stain. Histochemical and histological analyses correlated well with the success of DNA extraction and amplification. Using conventional DNA-specific histochemical techniques in conjunction with histological analysis can be useful in the study of DNA extracted from ancient bone remains while reducing both the amount of time and cost.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center