Preliminary investigation of the effect of maceration procedures on bone metabolome and lipidome

Bonicelli, Andrea orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9518-584X, Cheung, William, Hughes, Sheree, Westcott, Daniel J. and Procopio, Noemi orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7461-7586 (2022) Preliminary investigation of the effect of maceration procedures on bone metabolome and lipidome. Metabolites, 12 (11).

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The study of post-mortem changes is a crucial component of forensic investigation. Human forensic taphonomic facilities (HFTFs) are the only institutions allowing the design and execution of controlled human decomposition experiments. When bodies are skeletonised, bones are normally stored in skeletal collections and used for anthropological studies. However, HFTFs apply chemical and/or thermal treatments to the remains prior bone long-term storage. These treatments are believed to alter heavily the original biochemical and molecular signature of bone material. The present study aims to evaluate the effect of these procedures on the bone metabolome and lipidome by using an animal bone model. Three intact bovine tibiae were processed using three protocols routinely applied at HFTFs, and their three counterparts were used as non-treated controls. Bone powder samples were subjected to biphasic extraction and both metabolites and lipids were analysed via liquid chromatography tandem mass-spectrometry. Results showed severe reductions in the abundances of both metabolites and lipids, and the presence of contamination introduced by cleaning agents. Despite the preliminary nature of the study, we demonstrated that the biochemical profile of bone is heavily affected by the maceration procedures. Ideally, these treatments should be avoided, or replaced by minimally invasive procedures agreed across HFTFs.

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