Effect of sodium hypochlorite decontamination on the DNA recovery from human teeth

  • Katharina KoehnEmail author
  • Andreas Buettner
  • Iris Lindner
Original Article


Genetic identification of skeletal human remains is often realized by short tandem repeat (STR) genotyping of nuclear DNA. Dental DNA is preferred to DNA from bone for the better protection of the endogenous DNA. Especially if whole tooth grinding is intended to access the DNA, contaminations with exogenous DNA have to be avoided. The immersion of the tooth in sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl, known as bleach) is one common procedure to clean the outer surface from extraneous DNA and PCR inhibitors. To investigate the impact of bleaching on endogenous DNA and the decontamination success, 71 recently extracted teeth were differently treated with sodium hypochlorite (2.5 or 5.0% NaOCl for 30 or 60 s, 5.0% NaOCl for 10 min, and control group) in the beginning of the extraction process, whereas equally handled afterwards. Quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the extracted DNA was performed. There was a great variation for the DNA concentration of the extracts even within a group of the same NaOCl treatment. Complete DNA profiles from single persons with alleles for the 16 ESS (European Standard Set) STR loci were obtained for all regarded teeth. A statistically significant difference between the DNA yields of the treatment groups was not determined. Moreover, a negative effect of NaOCl (2.5% and 5.0%) on the DNA recovery could not be observed. Significant larger amounts of DNA were extracted from anterior teeth in contrast to posterior teeth.


Human identification Skeletal remains STR analysis DNA extraction Human teeth Sodium hypochlorite 



We thank all the dentists for providing us with tooth samples.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study was approved by the Medical Ethics Committee at the Rostock University Medical Center (A 2016-0226).


  1. 1.
    Sosa C, Baeta M, Núñez C et al (2012) Nuclear DNA typing from ancient teeth. Am J Forensic Med Pathol 33(3):211–214. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ricaut F-X, Keyser-Tracqui C, Crubezy E et al (2005) STR-genotyping from human medieval tooth and bone samples. Forensic Sci Int 151(1):31–35. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Poetsch L, Meyer U, Rothschild S et al (1992) Application of DNA techniques for identification using human dental pulp as a source of DNA. Int J Legal Med 105(3):139–143Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Sweet DJ, Sweet CH (1995) DNA analysis of dental pulp to link incinerated remains of homicide victim to crime scene. J Forensic Sci 40(2):310–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Prinz M, Carracedo A, Mayr WR et al (2007) DNA Commission of the International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG): recommendations regarding the role of forensic genetics for disaster victim identification (DVI). Forensic Sci Int Genet 1(1):3–12. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Alonso A, Andelinović S, Martín P et al (2001) DNA typing from skeletal remains: evaluation of multiplex and megaplex STR systems on DNA isolated from bone and teeth samples. Croat Med J 42(3):260–266Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Mundorff A, Davoren IM (2014) Examination of DNA yield rates for different skeletal elements at increasing post mortem intervals. Forensic Sci Int Genet 8(1):55–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Malaver PC, Yunis JJ (2003) Different dental tissues as source of DNA for human identification in forensic cases. Croat Med J 44(3):306–309PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    von Wurmb-Schwark N, Heinrich A, Freudenberg M et al (2008) The impact of DNA contamination of bone samples in forensic case analysis and anthropological research. Legal Med 10(3):125–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Korlević P, Gerber T, Gansauge M-T et al (2015) Reducing microbial and human contamination in DNA extractions from ancient bones and teeth. BioTechniques 59(2):87–93.
  11. 11.
    Prince AM, Andrus L (1992) PCR: how to kill unwanted DNA. BioTechniques 12(3):358–360PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Szkuta B, Ballantyne KN, van Oorschot R (2015) Potential degrading effect of sodium hypochlorite on exhibits containing DNA. Forensic Sci Int Genet Supplement Series 5:e52–e54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kampmann M-L, Borsting C, Morling N (2017) Decrease DNA contamination in the laboratories. Forensic Sci Int Genet Supplement Series 6:e577–e578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kemp BM, Smith DG (2005) Use of bleach to eliminate contaminating DNA from the surface of bones and teeth. Forensic Sci Int 154(1):53–61. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Prutz WA (1996) Hypochlorous acid interactions with thiols, nucleotides, DNA, and other biological substrates. Arch Biochem Biophys 332(1):110–120. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Fukuzaki S (2006) Mechanisms of actions of sodium hypochlorite in cleaning and disinfection processes. Biocontrol Sci 11(4):147–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Opel KL, Chung D, McCord BR (2010) A study of PCR inhibition mechanisms using real time PCR. J Forensic Sci 55(1):25–33. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Pinchi V, Torricelli F, Nutini AL et al (2011) Techniques of dental DNA extraction: some operative experiences. Forensic Sci Int 204(1-3):111–114. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Higgins D, Kaidonis J, Austin J et al (2011) Dentine and cementum as sources of nuclear DNA for use in human identification. Aust J Forensic Sci 43(4):287–295. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Higgins D, Austin JJ (2013) Teeth as a source of DNA for forensic identification of human remains: a Review. Sci Justice 53(4):433–441. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Higgins D, Kaidonis J, Townsend G et al (2013) Targeted sampling of cementum for recovery of nuclear DNA from human teeth and the impact of common decontamination measures. Investig Genet 4(1):18. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Milos A, Selmanović A, Smajlović L et al (2007) Success rates of nuclear short tandem repeat typing from different skeletal elements. Croat Medical J 48(4):486–493Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Pajnic IZ (2016) Extraction of DNA from human skeletal material. In: Goodwin W (ed) Forensic DNA typing protocols, methods in molecular biology, vol 1420. Springer Science+Business Media, New York, pp 89–108. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Gaytmenn R, Sweet D (2003) Quantification of forensic DNA from various regions of human teeth. J Forensic Sci 48(3):622–625CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Dobberstein RC, Huppertz J, von Wurmb-Schwark N et al (2008) Degradation of biomolecules in artificially and naturally aged teeth: Implications for age estimation based on aspartic acid racemization and DNA analysis. Forensic Sci Int 179(2-3):181–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Rubio L, Martinez LJ, Martinez E et al (2009) Study of short- and long-term storage of teeth and its influence on DNA. J Forensic Sci 54(6):1411–1413. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Bernick S, Nedelman C (1975) Effect of aging on the human pulp. J Endod 1(3):88–94. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Nitzan DW, Michaeli Y, Weinreb M et al (1986) The effect of aging on tooth morphology: a study on impacted teeth. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol 61(1):54–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Rubio L, Santos I, Gaitan MJ et al (2013) Time-dependent changes in DNA stability in decomposing teeth over 18 months. Acta Odontol Scand 71(3-4):638–643. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Legal MedicineRostock University Medical CenterRostockGermany

Personalised recommendations