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Forensic Sci Int. 1988 Oct;39(1):59-70.

Postmortem stability of DNA.

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1
Institute of Forensic Medicine, Zürich, Switzerland.

Abstract

High-molecular-weight DNA was recovered postmortem in sufficient quantities from various human organ tissues as well as from blood, although not all organs were equally well suitable. Good DNA stability was found in brain cortex, lymph nodes and psoas muscle over a period of three weeks postmortem. Spleen and kidney showed good DNA stability up to five days postmortem but after longer periods, rapid degradation was observed. Yields of DNA from blood were not consistent because of the non homogeneity of samples. Blood clots were rich with DNA. Generally, the amount of degraded DNA correlated directly with the duration of the postmortem period. However in some cases, DNA degradation was already prominent after a short period. However in some cases, DNA degradation was already prominent after a short period. Case histories showed that high environmental temperature at the site of death and/or infectious diseases prior to death were the main factors for rapid autolysis. Gradual disappearance to complete loss of the long fragments (15-23 kb) was observed in DNA fingerprinting using the minisatellite probe 33.15. No extra-bands were noted, thus excluding erroneous conclusions. However, evidentiary value of older samples was lower.

PMID:
2905319
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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