Microscopical characterization of known postmortem root bands using light and scanning electron microscopy

Citation:

Jack Hietpas, JoAnn Buscaglia, Adam H Richard, Stephen Shaw, Hilda S Castillo, and Joseph Donfack. 2016. “Microscopical characterization of known postmortem root bands using light and scanning electron microscopy.” Forensic Sci Int, 267, Pp. 7-15.

Abstract:

A postmortem root band (PMRB) is a distinct microscopic feature that is postulated to occur in hair remaining in the follicle during the postmortem interval [1] (Petraco et al., 1998). The scientific validity of this premise has been highlighted in two recent high-profile criminal cases involving PMRBs [2,3] (State of Florida v. Casey Marie Anthony, 2008; People v. Kogut, 2005). To better understand the fundamental aspects of postmortem root banding, the microscopical properties of known PMRBs(1) were characterized by light microscopy, and scanning electron microscope (SEM) imaging of microtomed sections of hairs showing root banding. The results from this study show that the appearance of the PMRB may be due to the degradation of the chemically labile, non-keratin intermacrofibrillar matrix (IMM) in the pre-keratin/keratogenous region of anagen hairs. In addition, this degradation is confined to the cortex of the hair, with no apparent damage to the layers of the cuticle. These results could provide valuable information for determining the mechanism of band formation, as well as identify a set of microscopic features that could be used to distinguish hairs with known PMRBs from similarly looking environmentally degraded hairs.