Internal and Emergency Medicine

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 507–516 | Cite as

Blood stains of the Turin Shroud 2015: beyond personal hopes and limitations of techniques

  • Giovanni Di Minno
  • Rosanna Scala
  • Itala Ventre
  • Giovanni de Gaetano


In the early ‘80s, evidence was provided that, rather than a dye (red okra), hemoglobin was indeed responsible for the alleged blood stains of the Turin Shroud. Such stains were shown to belong to an MNS positive individual of the AB group, and the halos surrounding the blood stains were compatible with serum containing trace amounts of bilirubin, albumin and immunoglobulins. However, being only based on indirect and circumstantial evidence, most of these data were challenged. In the late ‘90s, together with the evidence of the gene coding β-globin, contamination between male and female DNA was documented on the Turin Shroud. Although the presence of male was more noticeable than female DNA, these data were considered null and void. These days, to establish that blood indisputably belongs to an MNS positive individual of the AB group, and to exclude DNA contamination, high-specificity techniques with monoclonal antibodies and molecular studies on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA are needed. Indeed, consistent with DNA contamination on the Turin Shroud, sequences from multiple subjects of different ethnic origins have been recently detected on the human mitochondrial genome extracted from dust particles of the linen. Innovative concepts are likely to come up using modern research approaches to evaluate the issue of blood stains of the Turin Shroud. Nor can we rule out the possibility that religious implications of the new findings on the Turin Shroud might be envisaged. Conceivably enough, the ongoing debate will be fierce and passionate, especially in the media.


Microscopic examinations Chemical/physical techniques Blood group Next generation DNA sequencing methods Mitochondrial DNA analysis Medieval forgery Science Faith 



The Authors wish to thank Drs. Waltr Memmolo, Antonio Salvio and Maria Benedetta Donati for helpful discussions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

G.D.M. and G.d.G. have served on advisory boards unrelated to the topics discussed in the present commentary. R.S. has nothing to declare.

Statement of human and animal rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent



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Copyright information

© SIMI 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giovanni Di Minno
    • 1
  • Rosanna Scala
    • 1
  • Itala Ventre
    • 1
  • Giovanni de Gaetano
    • 2
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e ChirurgiaUniversità degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II”NaplesItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Epidemiologia e PrevenzioneIRCCS Istituto Neurologico MediterraneoPozzilliItaly

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