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The Ultrastructure of Tissue Attached to Telogen Hair Roots

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Most tissues encountered in forensic biology laboratories have been previously characterized with electron microscopy due to their medical importance. Anagen hair root cells, epithelial cells, erythrocytes, neutrophils, osteocytes, and spermatozoa have received considerable research attention at the ultrastructual level. There is no literature indicating that cells attached to removed telogen hair roots have been characterized with transmission electron microscopy. Nonetheless, telogen hairs are a frequent submission item to forensic laboratories for DNA typing. The amount of tissue attached to a telogen hair root usually determines whether that hair is suitable for nuclear DNA typing methods or mitochondrial DNA typing methods. This study used transmission and scanning electron microscopy to characterize the tissues found in three commonly occurring telogen hair root forms. The tissues were found to consist of keratinized remnant follicle, nonnucleated epithelial cells, nucleated epithelial cells, and trichilemmal keratin. These findings were consistent with the known principles of hair follicle regression. The recognition of the root structures that contain these specific tissue types may assist in the DNA typing of telogen hairs inasmuch as the quality of tissue present may be more important than the amounts of tissue present.

Keywords: electron microscopy; forensic science; hair DNA typing; hair histology; hair ultrastructure; telogen

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Department of Cell Biology and Biochemistry, 3601 4th Street, Room BC 200, Lubbock, TX 79430.

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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