Examination of the temporal variation of peptide content in decomposition fluid under controlled conditions using pigs as human substitutes

Ashley-N’Dene Nolan, Robert J. Mead, Garth Maker, Scott Bringans, Brendan Chapman, Samuel J. Speers (2019). Forensic Science International.



We report the preliminary observations of the peptide content of decomposition fluid produced under controlled laboratory conditions and in the absence of a soil matrix. Four domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus) cadavers were used to model human decomposition over a four-week trial period; physical characteristics were recorded and the peptide components of decomposition fluid was analysed using high performance liquid chromatography-time of flight mass spectrometry. Preliminary data analysis indicated that a range of peptides were consistently detected across the course of the trial period and 27 of these were common to all four cadavers; 22 originating from haemoglobin. The peptides associated with haemoglobin subunit alpha and beta displayed a breakdown pattern that remained consistent for all cadavers for the duration of the trial. Though identification of peptides during decomposition has potential for estimating the time since death, quantification of selected peptides is likely to be essential to identify time-dependent trends.



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