Biochemical alterations of bone subjected to fire

Sarah Ellingham, Sara C. Zapico

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In order to understand the changes undergone by bone once it is subjected to fire, one must first understand its makeup in vivo. Around 90% of bone volume is accounted for by its extracellular matrix, which is a two-phase composite material comprised of a mineral phase, an organic phase and water. The in vivo bone structure and makeup undergoes several changes via diagenetic processes post-mortem. These changes are accelerated and more severe when the bone is subjected to heating. There are four main stages that bone undergoes when subjected to high temperatures: dehydration, decomposition, inversion, and fusion. There are only a few studies analyzing the specific effects of fire on DNA. The majority aim to assess the recovery of a full nuclear DNA profile with identification purposes. To serve this objective, bones and/or teeth were subjected to different temperatures and times to evaluate DNA yield, amplification, and profiling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBurnt Human Remains
Subtitle of host publicationRecovery, Analysis, and Interpretation
PublisherJohn Wiley and Sons Ltd
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781119682745
ISBN (Print)9781119682608
StatePublished - Jul 19 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


  • Decomposition phase
  • Dehydration phase
  • Dna profile
  • Fusion process
  • Inversion phase
  • Mineral phase
  • Organic phase
  • one structure


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