For various legal and forensic scenarios, establishing an individual’s age, both living and dead, plays a crucial role. Various morphological, radiographic, and molecular methods can be used for age estimation. In children and adolescents, age estimation is based on the established developmental stages. However, in adults, where the development ceases into maturation, the degenerative changes play a role in determining the age.
Main body of the abstract
In the natural aging process, several molecular changes occur most commonly in the long-living proteins and hard tissues like the teeth and bone. These molecular changes gradually lead to alterations in several organs and organ systems, which can be quantified and correlated with age, including aspartic acid racemization, collagen crosslinks, advanced glycation-end products, and mitochondrial DNA mutations.
Among the above methods, the racemization of aspartic acid can be considered as the most precise method. The main advantage of using aspartic acid racemization is that the sample can be collected from tissues (teeth) protected from various environmental and nutritional factors. If all the confounding factors are stable, the utilization of advanced glycation-end products can also be considered valuable. Environmental factors like lead accumulations may also help determine the age. However, further studies need to be conducted, focusing on providing a more standardized method. This review provides a concise summary of the biochemical techniques that can be used for estimation of age.