International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 125, Issue 2, pp 181–198 | Cite as

State-of-the-art of bone marrow analysis in forensic toxicology: a review

  • Nathalie Cartiser
  • Fabien Bévalot
  • Laurent Fanton
  • Yvan Gaillard
  • Jérôme Guitton
Review Article


Although blood is the reference medium in the field of forensic toxicology, alternative matrices are required in case of limited, unavailable or unusable blood samples. The present review investigated the suitability of bone marrow (BM) as an alternative matrix to characterize xenobiotic consumption and its influence on the occurrence of death. Basic data on BM physiology are reported in order to highlight the specificities of this matrix and their analytical and toxicokinetic consequences. A review of case reports, animal and human studies involving BM sample analysis focuses on the various parameters of interpretation of toxicological results: analytic limits, sampling location, pharmacokinetics, blood/BM concentration correlation, stability and postmortem redistribution. Tables summarizing the analytical conditions and quantification of 45 compounds from BM samples provide a useful tool for toxicologists. A specific section devoted to ethanol shows that, despite successful quantification, interpretation is highly dependent on postmortem interval. In conclusion, BM is an interesting alternative matrix, and further experimental data and validated assays are required to confirm its great potential relevance in forensic toxicology.


Bone marrow Forensic toxicology BM physiology 



The authors would like to express their gratitude to Dr. Martine French for providing the pictures of histologic sections of bone marrow (Fig. 1).

Figure 2 was reprinted from Seminars in Nuclear Medicine, 37(3), Judy S. Blebea, Mohamed Houseni, Drew A. Torigian, Chengzhong Fan, Ayse Mavi, Ying Zhuge, Tad Iwanaga, Shipra Mishra, Jay Udupa, Jiyuan Zhuang, Rohit Gopal, and Abass Alavi, Structural and Functional Imaging of Normal Bone Marrow and Evaluation of its Age-Related Changes, pages 186, Copyright (2010), with permission from Elsevier.

Nathalie Cartiser is grateful to ‘Association Nationale de la Recherche et de la Technologie, Service CIFRE’ for the PhD grant.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathalie Cartiser
    • 1
    • 2
  • Fabien Bévalot
    • 2
    • 3
  • Laurent Fanton
    • 3
  • Yvan Gaillard
    • 2
  • Jérôme Guitton
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Université de Lyon, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, ISPB-Faculté de pharmacie, Laboratoire de ToxicologieLyon cedex 08France
  2. 2.Laboratoire LAT LUMTOXLyonFrance
  3. 3.Université de Lyon, Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Institut de Médecine LégaleLyon cedex 08France
  4. 4.Hospices Civils de Lyon, Centre Hospitalier Lyon-Sud, Laboratoire de pharmacologie-toxicologiePierre BéniteFrance

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