Self- and non-self-DNA on hands and sleeve cuffs.

Henry, Léonie; Zieger, Martin (2024). Self- and non-self-DNA on hands and sleeve cuffs. International journal of legal medicine, 138(3), pp. 757-766. Springer 10.1007/s00414-023-03124-9

s00414-023-03124-9.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (805kB) | Preview

Studying DNA transfer and persistence has become increasingly important over the last decade, due to the impressive sensitivity of modern DNA detection methods in forensic genetics. To improve our understanding of background DNA that could also potentially be transferred, we analyzed the DNA composition on the outside of sleeve cuffs and sampled DNA directly from the hands of four different collaborators upon their arrival at work during 25 working days. Sampling of their hands was repeated after several hours working in our department. The shedder status of the participants, as assumed from previous internal studies, was well re-produced in the study. However, we noticed that the DNA shedding capacity could also change drastically during the day, with one participant showing a more than sixfold increase between hands sampled in the morning and hands sampled in the afternoon. As expected, poor DNA shedders carry more relative amounts of non-self-DNA on their hands than good shedders. Non-self-alleles were detected in 95% of the samples. We also observed potential effects of hand washing and the mode of transport to get to work on the DNA amount. People living with family members occasionally carried their DNA on their hands and more frequently on their sleeve cuffs. Sleeve cuffs, as being close to our hands, have a large potential to transfer DNA from one place to another, yet they have sparsely been studied as DNA transfer intermediates so far. In general, we collected consistently more DNA from the sleeve cuffs than from the hands of the participants, demonstrating their importance as potential transfer vectors. More DNA was recovered from sleeve cuffs made of synthetic fabric than from cuffs made of cotton or leather. In the afternoon, DNA from co-habitant family members could not be detected on the hands anymore and the detection of profiles from colleagues became more frequent. From two out of 100 analyzed sleeve cuffs and two out of 200 sampled hands, we established unknown major DNA profiles that would have been suitable for an entry in the national DNA database. This finding demonstrates the possibility to transfer DNA that has most likely been picked up somewhere in the public space.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Forensic Molecular Biology

UniBE Contributor:

Zieger, Martin


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Antoinette Angehrn

Date Deposited:

07 Dec 2023 11:55

Last Modified:

11 Apr 2024 00:13

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Background DNA Hand Shedder status Sleeve cuff Transfer




Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback