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Illuminating touch deposits through cellular characterization of hand rinses and body fluids with nucleic acid fluorescence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number102269
JournalForensic Science International: Genetics
Early online date4 Mar 2020
Accepted/In press29 Feb 2020
E-pub ahead of print4 Mar 2020
PublishedMay 2020

King's Authors


Forensic DNA typing from touched or handled items in routine casework is increasing as the sensitivity of detection techniques improves. Our understanding of the cellular/acellular content of touch deposits and the origins of the DNA therein is still limited. This work explores the cellular content of rinses from washed and unwashed hands, as well as saliva, nasal and eye washes which could be sources of transferred DNA onto hands. Flow cytometry and microscopic examination were used to detect granularity, size and nucleic acid fluorescence data. Cellular content did not vary significantly within an individual, although some differences were observed between donors. Saliva contained populations of nucleated epithelia as well as smaller cells and debris, all positive for DNA. Hand rinses consisted almost entirely of anucleate corneocytes, many of which also stained positive for nucleic acids. These data raise questions about shed corneocyte DNA content previously assumed to be negligible.

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