DNA quality and quantity from up to 16 years old post-mortem blood stored on FTA cards

Anna Liina Rahikainen, Jukka U. Palo, Wiljo de Leeuw, Bruce Budowle, Antti Sajantila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Blood samples preserved on FTA cards offer unique opportunities for genetic research. DNA recovered from these cards should be stable for long periods of time. However, it is not well established as how well the DNA stored on FTA card for substantial time periods meets the demands of forensic or genomic DNA analyses and especially so for from post-mortem (PM) samples in which the quality can vary upon initial collection. The aim of this study was to evaluate the time-dependent degradation on DNA quality and quantity extracted from up to 16 years old post-mortem bloodstained FTA cards. Four random FTA samples from eight time points spanning 1998 to 2013 (n = 32) were collected and extracted in triplicate. The quantity and quality of the extracted DNA samples were determined with Quantifiler® Human Plus (HP) Quantification kit. Internal sample and sample-to-sample variation were evaluated by comparing recovered DNA yields. The DNA from the triplicate samplings were subsequently combined and normalized for further analysis. The practical effect of degradation on DNA quality was evaluated from normalized samples both with forensic and pharmacogenetic target markers. Our results suggest that (1) a PM change, e.g. blood clotting prior to sampling, affects the recovered DNA yield, creating both internal and sample-to-sample variation; (2) a negative correlation between the FTA card storage time and DNA quantity (r = -0.836 at the 0.01 level) was observed; (3) a positive correlation (r = 0.738 at the level 0.01) was found between FTA card storage time and degradation levels. However, no inhibition was observed with the method used. The effect of degradation was manifested clearly with functional applications. Although complete STR-profiles were obtained for all samples, there was evidence of degradation manifested as decreased peak heights in the larger-sized amplicons. Lower amplification success was notable with the large 5.1 kb CYP2D6 gene fragment which strongly supports degradation of the stored samples. According to our results, DNA stored on FTA cards is rather stable over a long time period. DNA extracted from this storage medium can be used as human identification purposes as the method used is sufficiently sensitive and amplicon sizes tend to be <400 bp. However, DNA integrity was affected during storage. This effect should be taken into account depending on the intended application especially if high quality DNA and long PCR amplicons are required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-153
Number of pages6
JournalForensic Science International
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • DNA extraction
  • Degradation
  • FTA cards
  • Forensic genetics
  • Inhibition
  • Quantification


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