Most of the on-site approaches for inferring of the post-mortem interval are still based on observative data from the direct body inspection, whereas, objective and quantitative analyses, such as potassium in the vitreous humor, are require laboratory instrumentation and skilled personnel. The present paper presents a simple and low cost analytical method suitable for use at the crime scene for inferring the time since death. The method uses a microfluidic paper-based device (μPAD) for the determination of ammonium in the vitreous humor (VH) based on the selective interaction between the ammonium and the Nessler's reagent. The color change was measured in terms of "RGB distance" by using a simple and free smartphone application. The optimized device showed a limit of detection of 0.4 mmol L-1, with between days precision less than 9.3% expressed as relative standard deviation, and accuracy between days from 94.5% to 104.5%. The selectivity of the Nessler's reaction was tested towards the main vitreous humor compounds, and no significant interferences were found. This paper-based analytical device was successfully used for the determination of ammonium ion in VH samples from forensic autopsies. The results obtained with the proposed method, although for a limited number of cases (n = 25), showed a close correlation with the data obtained with an instrumental analysis based on capillary electrophoresis. Moreover, in order to make the evaluation of results as simple as possible, a direct correlation between the color intensity, expressed as RGB distance, and the post-mortem interval was studied and a significant correlation was found (R2 > 0.78). In conclusion, the present preliminary study showes that the proposed device could be an additional tool to the traditional methods for a more accurate, although still presumptive, estimation of the time of death directly at the crime scene.

Thanatochemistry at the crime scene: a microfluidic paper-based device for ammonium analysis in the vitreous humor

Musile, Giacomo;AGARD, YVANE;De Palo, Elio F.;Bortolotti, Federica;Tagliaro, Franco
2019-01-01

Abstract

Most of the on-site approaches for inferring of the post-mortem interval are still based on observative data from the direct body inspection, whereas, objective and quantitative analyses, such as potassium in the vitreous humor, are require laboratory instrumentation and skilled personnel. The present paper presents a simple and low cost analytical method suitable for use at the crime scene for inferring the time since death. The method uses a microfluidic paper-based device (μPAD) for the determination of ammonium in the vitreous humor (VH) based on the selective interaction between the ammonium and the Nessler's reagent. The color change was measured in terms of "RGB distance" by using a simple and free smartphone application. The optimized device showed a limit of detection of 0.4 mmol L-1, with between days precision less than 9.3% expressed as relative standard deviation, and accuracy between days from 94.5% to 104.5%. The selectivity of the Nessler's reaction was tested towards the main vitreous humor compounds, and no significant interferences were found. This paper-based analytical device was successfully used for the determination of ammonium ion in VH samples from forensic autopsies. The results obtained with the proposed method, although for a limited number of cases (n = 25), showed a close correlation with the data obtained with an instrumental analysis based on capillary electrophoresis. Moreover, in order to make the evaluation of results as simple as possible, a direct correlation between the color intensity, expressed as RGB distance, and the post-mortem interval was studied and a significant correlation was found (R2 > 0.78). In conclusion, the present preliminary study showes that the proposed device could be an additional tool to the traditional methods for a more accurate, although still presumptive, estimation of the time of death directly at the crime scene.
Ammonium; Microfluidic paper-based devices (μPADs); Post-mortem interval; Thanatochemistry at the crime scene; Vitreous humor
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1010001
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