Age related changes of rib cortical bone matrix and the application to forensic age-at-death estimation

Bonicelli, Andrea, Zioupos, Peter, Arnold, Emily, Rogers, Keith D., Xhemali, Bledar and Kranioti, Elena F. (2021) Age related changes of rib cortical bone matrix and the application to forensic age-at-death estimation. Scientific Reports, 11 (1). p. 2086. ISSN 2045-2322

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Forensic anthropology includes, amongst other applications, the positive identification of unknown human skeletal remains. The first step in this process is an assessment of the biological profile, that is: sex, age, stature and ancestry. In forensic contexts, age estimation is one of the main challenges in the process of identification. Recently established admissibility criteria are driving researchers towards standardisation of methodological procedures. Despite these changes, experience still plays a central role in anthropological examinations. In order to avoid this issue, age estimation procedures (i) must be presented to the scientific community and published in peer reviewed journals, (ii) accurately explained in terms of procedure and (iii) present clear information about the accuracy of the estimation and possible error rates. In order to fulfil all these requirements, a number of methods based on physiological processes which result in biochemical changes in various tissue structures at the molecular level, such as modifications in DNA-methylation and telomere shortening, racemization of proteins and stable isotopes analysis, have been developed. The current work proposes a new systematic approach in age estimation based on tracing physicochemical and mechanical degeneration of the rib cortical bone matrix. This study used autopsy material from 113 rib specimens. A set of 33 parameters were measured by standard bio-mechanical (nanoindentation and microindentation), physical (TGA/DSC, XRD and FTIR) and histomorphometry (porosity-ImageJ) methods. Stepwise regressions were used to create equations that would produce the best ‘estimates of age at death’ vs real age of the cadavers. Five equations were produced; in the best of cases an equation counting 7 parameters had an R2 = 0.863 and mean absolute error of 4.64 years. The present method meets all the admissibility criteria previously described. Furthermore, the method is experience-independent and as such can be performed without previous expert knowledge of forensic anthropology and human anatomy.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: The authors are grateful to Mr. Kostaq Beluri, of Control Department Investigation and Prosecution of the General Prosecutor, Ministry of Head Justice, Tirana, Albania for granting permission to carry out the project. PZ and KDR are grateful to the EPSRC (EP/K020196/1 and EP/N509450/1) for supporting their research. Special thanks to Mara Karell for the linguistic review.
Subjects: B100 Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology
F200 Materials Science
F400 Forensic and Archaeological Science
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Applied Sciences
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2021 15:30
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 10:33

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