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A new approach to amino acid racemization in enamel: testing of a less destructive sampling methodology

Penkman, Kirsty E.H.; Penkman, Kirsty E H; Griffin, Rebecca C.; Moody, Howard; Penkman, Kirsty E. H.; Fagan, Michael J.; Curtis, Neil; Collins, Matthew J.


Kirsty E.H. Penkman

Kirsty E H Penkman

Rebecca C. Griffin

Howard Moody

Kirsty E. H. Penkman

Michael J. Fagan

Neil Curtis

Matthew J. Collins


Aspartic acid racemization has been found to be an accurate measure of age at death for recent forensic material. This paper examines the practicality of using acid etching of the tooth surface to extract amino acids from the enamel for racemization analysis. By serial etching of the tooth and contamination of the teeth with bovine serum albumin prior to etching, the ability of etching to remove contamination was assessed. The destructiveness of the method was visualized and quantified using micro-computed tomography (micro-CT). By bleaching the teeth and by deeper etching it was possible to obtain more consistent values. While etching had little effect on the enamel at the macroscale, it did have an impact at the microscale. The quantities of enamel removed varied depending upon the tooth morphology, but were not large. Acid etching of enamel thus appears to be a promising new method for extracting proteins for amino acid racemization age estimation noninvasively.


Griffin, R. C., Moody, H., Penkman, K. E. H., Fagan, M. J., Curtis, N., & Collins, M. J. (2008). A new approach to amino acid racemization in enamel: testing of a less destructive sampling methodology. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 53(4), 910-916.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jul 4, 2008
Publication Date 2008-07
Print ISSN 0022-1198
Electronic ISSN 1556-4029
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 53
Issue 4
Pages 910-916
Keywords Pathology and Forensic Medicine; Genetics
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