The identification of red blood cells on both skeletal human remains and decomposed corpses is of remarkable importance in forensic sciences, irrespective of its diagnostic value; their presence is often perplexing and difficult to interpret especially when in the context of decomposition and taphonomical variables. Some clinical research has focused on the morphological changes of red blood cells over time by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), but no research has investigated whether botanical structures can be confused for red blood cells. Since some literature has recently presumed the detection of erythrocyte-like cells on skeletal remains (even ancient) as surely erythrocytes, and most have never taken into consideration the chance of an origin different from blood, such as botanical, the present study aims at verifying the possibility of confusion between erythrocytes and botanical cells by applying SEM analysis and at highlighting the pitfalls in this particular issue through a test submitted to pathologists and natural scientists asked to discriminate between red blood cells and different vegetal structures (60 images obtained by SEM analysis). The results showed that although there are diagnostic features useful in identifying red blood cells from botanical structures, some spores resulted very similar to decaying red blood cells, which calls for attention and great caution when studying decomposed human remains.

Blood or spores? A cautionary note on interpreting cellular debris on human skeletal remains / A. Cappella, S. Stefanelli, M. Caccianiga, A. Rizzi, B. Bertoglio, C. Sforza, C. Cattaneo. - In: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LEGAL MEDICINE. - ISSN 0937-9827. - 129:4(2015 Jul), pp. 919-926.

Blood or spores? A cautionary note on interpreting cellular debris on human skeletal remains

A. Cappella;M. Caccianiga;B. Bertoglio;C. Sforza;C. Cattaneo
2015-07

Abstract

The identification of red blood cells on both skeletal human remains and decomposed corpses is of remarkable importance in forensic sciences, irrespective of its diagnostic value; their presence is often perplexing and difficult to interpret especially when in the context of decomposition and taphonomical variables. Some clinical research has focused on the morphological changes of red blood cells over time by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), but no research has investigated whether botanical structures can be confused for red blood cells. Since some literature has recently presumed the detection of erythrocyte-like cells on skeletal remains (even ancient) as surely erythrocytes, and most have never taken into consideration the chance of an origin different from blood, such as botanical, the present study aims at verifying the possibility of confusion between erythrocytes and botanical cells by applying SEM analysis and at highlighting the pitfalls in this particular issue through a test submitted to pathologists and natural scientists asked to discriminate between red blood cells and different vegetal structures (60 images obtained by SEM analysis). The results showed that although there are diagnostic features useful in identifying red blood cells from botanical structures, some spores resulted very similar to decaying red blood cells, which calls for attention and great caution when studying decomposed human remains.
Forensic anthropology; Forensic pathology; Red blood cells; SEM; Spores
Settore MED/43 - Medicina Legale
Settore BIO/16 - Anatomia Umana
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/286379
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