This article details research into classifying body fluids using miRNA expression from DNA extracts to reduce evidentiary sample consumption and processing time in forensic laboratories.
There is significant interest in the use of miRNA analysis for forensic body fluid identification. Demonstrated co-extraction and detection in DNA extracts could make the use of miRNAs a more streamlined molecular body fluid identification method than other RNA-based methods. The authors previously reported a reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) panel of eight miRNAs that classified venous and menstrual blood, feces, urine, saliva, semen, and vaginal secretions using a quadratic discriminant analysis (QDA) model with 93% accuracy in RNA extracts. Herein, miRNA expression in DNA extracts from 50 donors of each body fluid were tested using the model. Initially, a classification rate of 87% was obtained, which increased to 92% when three additional miRNAs were added. Body fluid identification was found to be reliable across population samples of mixed ages, ethnicities, and sex, with 72–98% of the unknown samples classifying correctly. The model was then tested against compromised samples and over biological cycles, where classification accuracy varied, depending on the body fluid. In conclusion, the authors demonstrated the ability to classify body fluids using miRNA expression from DNA extracts, eliminating the need for RNA extraction, greatly reducing evidentiary sample consumption and processing time in forensic laboratories, but acknowledge that compromised semen and saliva samples can fail to classify properly, and mixed sample classification remains untested and may have limitations.