The effect of environmental conditions on the rate of RNA degradation in dried blood stains

Nicole Heneghan, Jun Fu, Jane Pritchard, Mark Payton, Robert W. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The relationship between RNA degradation and the age of a bloodstain has been suggested by the work of several investigators. A prior study from this laboratory described a qPCR assay that was effective at estimating the age of bloodstains stored in an environmentally controlled laboratory for periods of up to one year. In this study, the effect of the environmental conditions on the rate of RNA degradation during storage was analyzed. Bloodstains were prepared on stain cards and stored in one of 9 different environments for periods of up to 24 weeks. At selected times during the storage term, RNA was extracted, reverse transcribed, and the integrity of select transcripts analyzed. Three temperatures (37 °C, 20 °C, and 4 °C) and three relative humidities (rH) (75 %, 35 %, and 10 %) were combined pairwise. The rate of RNA degradation was found to increase 5–10 fold in stains stored at 37 °C versus those stored at 20 °C. The rate of RNA degradation was faster for stains stored at 20 °C compared to 4 °C but differed only 2–4 fold. Multivariate regression analysis suggests elevations in temperature or rH will accelerate RNA degradation and will do so to a similar extent. It is clear from the data that the integrity of the transcriptome in dried bloodstains is better preserved in a cold and dry environment. Investigations are ongoing to develop an approach for the estimation of sample age that incorporates the environmental conditions of a crime scene into the age estimate.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102456
JournalForensic Science International: Genetics
Volume51
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Body fluid stains
  • RNA degradation
  • Sample aging
  • qPCR

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