International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 108, Issue 1, pp 19–23 | Cite as

Estimation of chronologic age using the aspartic acid racemization method. I. On human rib cartilage

  • H. Pfeiffer
  • H. Mörnstad
  • A. Teivens
Original Articles


Determinations of chronologic age are of great importance in forensic science. At present the aspartic acid racemization method on teeth provides one of the best means in adult individuals. However, if teeth are not available, some other stable tissue has to be used. In this study, the applicability of cartilage from the ribs has been tested. Specimens of rib cartilage were obtained at autopsy from 24 individuals aged 0.2–96 years. An acid-soluble peptide (SP) fraction and an insoluble collagen-rich (IC) fraction were prepared, and the ratio of D/L aspartic acid was determined using the HPLC technique. The correlation coefficient between the D/L ratio and age was r = 0.91 in SP and r = 0.97 in IC. It thus seems as if cartilage from non-weight-bearing areas may be a useful source of tissue for the estimation of chronologic age with the aspartic acid racemization method when teeth are not available.

Key words

Age determination Cartilage Aspartic acid High pressure liquid chromatography 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Pfeiffer
    • 1
  • H. Mörnstad
    • 2
  • A. Teivens
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Forensic MedicineKlinik der Friedrich-Schiller-UniversitätJenaGermany
  2. 2.Departments of Forensic Odontology and Forensic MedicineKarolinska InstitutetStockholmHuddingeSweden
  3. 3.Department of Forensic OdontologyKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

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