Success rates of nuclear short tandem repeat typing from different skeletal elements

Ana Miloš, Arijana Selmanović, Lejla Smajlović, René L.M. Huel, Cheryl Katzmarzyk, Adi Rizvić, Thomas J. Parsons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


Aim: To evaluate trends in DNA typing success rates of different skeletal elements from mass graves originating from conflicts that occurred in the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo) during the 1990s, and to establish correlation between skeletal sample age and success of high throughput short tandem repeat (STR) typing in the large data set of the International Commission on Missing Persons. Method: DNA extraction and short tandem repeat (STR) typing have been attempted on over 25 000 skeletal samples. The skeletal samples originated from different geographical locations where the conflicts occurred and from different time periods from 1992 to 1999. DNA preservation in these samples was highly variable, but was often significantly degraded and of limited quantity. For the purpose of this study, processed samples were categorized according to skeletal sample type, sample age since death, and success rates tabulated. Results: Well-defined general trends in success rates of DNA analyses were observed with respect to the type of bone tested and sample age. The highest success rates were observed with samples from dense cortical bone of weight-bearing leg bones (femur 86.9%), whereas long bones of the arms showed significantly lower success (humerus 46.2%, radius 24.5%, ulna 22.8%). Intact teeth also exhibited high success rates (teeth 82.7%). DNA isolation from other skeletal elements differed considerably in success, making bone sample selection an important factor influencing success. Conclusion: The success of DNA typing is related to the type of skeletal sample. By carefully evaluating skeletal material available for forensic DNA testing with regard to sample age and type of skeletal element available, it is possible to increase the success and efficiency of forensic DNA testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)486-493
Number of pages8
JournalCroatian Medical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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