Citrate Content of Bone: A Potential Measure of Postmortem Interval

Charles Froome


The reliable and accurate determination of the postmortem interval (PMI) of human skeletal remains continues to be a major problem in forensic science. Recent research has suggested that the citrate content of bone may provide a promising approach to PMI determination of skeletal remains; therefore, it warrants further investigation.   The main goals of this research are to validate, further optimize, and develop the method and eventually apply it to the analysis of human skeletal remains. The research project consists of three phases; however, only results from phase one is presented. Specifically results from initial optimization and calibration studies, and preliminary results from the analysis of fresh big bone (PMI < 1 month) are discussed. The detection limit of the UV-Vis assay was approximately 4 µg of citrate (~0.008 wt%) and approximately 2 mg·L-1 of citrate for the HPLC method (~0.05 wt%).  Acid digestions were performed with fresh pig bone and analyzed by each method; the wt% of citrate of fresh pig bone was 1.02 ± 0.08 wt% for the UV-Vis assay and 1.12 ± 0.06 wt% for the HPLC method.

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