Age estimation based on molecular biology approaches

Sara C. Zapico, Christian Thomas, Silvia Zoppis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Age-at-death estimation using molecular biology approaches is based on different modifications to the DNA during the aging process. Thus telomeres shorten with each cell division, showing a correlation of the decrease of telomere length with age; however, the error between chronological and predictive age is high with respect to classical anthropological techniques. Several studies point out the increase in mtDNA mutations with age, and although the correlation is high, further studies are required to routinely adopt this methodology in a forensic laboratory. Although signal joint T-cell receptor excision circle rearrangements have been shown to decrease with age, the accuracy of this technique is similar to telomere shortening, and additionally it can only be applied to blood samples. The growing field of epigenetics can also be applied to forensic age estimation showing a high correlation between DNA methylation and age. However, further studies are needed to make full use of this methodology in forensic casework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAge Estimation
Subtitle of host publicationA Multidisciplinary Approach
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780128144923
ISBN (Print)9780128144916
StatePublished - Apr 12 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


  • Blood samples
  • Common deletion
  • DNA methylation
  • ELOVL2
  • Epigenetic modifications
  • Mitochondrial DNA mutations
  • Saliva
  • SjTREC
  • Teeth
  • Telomerase
  • Telomere shortening


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