Characterization of the triacylglycerol crystal formation in adipose tissue during a vehicle collision

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2007, 52 (4), pp. 938 - 942
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The unusual appearance of crystalline fat structures was observed during the postmortem examination of a motor vehicle accident victim. The crystal structures were characterized using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and x-ray diffractometry. The structures were found to be made of triacylglycerols, a dominant lipid structure found in human adipose tissue, capable of forming various polymorphic structures. The morphology of the crystalline material was found using both techniques to be predominantly the β′ form of triacylglycerols. The accelerated growth of such triacylglycerol morphology has been observed as a result of shear stresses in other studies involving edible fats. As a result of the findings of this study, it is proposed that increased shear forces may be responsible for the formation of the unusual fat structure found in the victim. An understanding of the effect of forces on the structure of body fat in high-impact collisions can potentially assist in verifying a high-velocity impact. © 2007 American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
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