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Optimising the sampling procedure for forensic investigation of bruises on pigs
  1. Kristiane Barington1,
  2. Kerstin Skovgaard2,
  3. Nicole Lind Henriksen1 and
  4. Henrik Elvang Jensen1
  1. 1 Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg C, Denmark
  2. 2 Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine, Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Kristiane Barington, Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg C 1165, Denmark; krisb{at}


Background Human-inflicted bruises on pigs are a violation of the law and affected tissue is regularly sent for forensic investigation. The authors aimed to evaluate the variation in inflammation within and between human-inflicted porcine bruises in order to determine the optimal sampling procedure.

Methods Skin and muscle tissues from the centre and ends of 21 bruises were evaluated histologically. Moreover, RNA was extracted from the subcutaneous fat tissue. The bruises were detected during meat inspection at the slaughter line, and all carcases were kept at 5°C for 12–24 hours before sampling.

Results The sampling site with the most infiltration of neutrophils and macrophages differed between bruises inflicted on the same pig and between bruises inflicted on more pigs within the same delivery. The extracted RNA had RIN (RNA integrity number) values from 3 to 6.5.

Conclusions Tissue samples should always be taken from both skin and underlying muscle tissue. Samples should be collected from several sites along each bruise, and all bruises should be sampled in order to include the site of maximum tissue damage and inflammation. Moreover, RNA of sufficient quality for quantitative PCR and subsequent age estimation cannot be obtained from carcases kept for 12–24 hours at 5°C.

  • bruise
  • forensic pathology
  • histology
  • RNA integrity
  • RNA quality
  • pig
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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The study material originated from dead pigs slaughtered at a Danish slaughterhouse. All legal and ethical requirements have been met with regard to the humane treatment of the pigs during slaughter.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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