Forensic epigenetics, i.e., investigating epigenetics variation to resolve forensically relevant questions unanswerable with standard forensic DNA profiling has been gaining substantial ground over the last few years. Differential DNA methylation among tissues and individuals has been proposed as useful resource for three forensic applications i) determining the tissue type of a human biological trace, ii) estimating the age of an unknown trace donor, and iii) differentiating between monozygotic twins. Thus far, forensic epigenetic investigations have used a wide range of methods for CpG marker discovery, prediction modelling and targeted DNA methylation analysis, all coming with advantages and disadvantages when it comes to forensic trace analysis. In this review, we summarize the most recent literature on these three main topics of current forensic epigenetic investigations and discuss limitations and practical considerations in experimental design and data interpretation, such as technical and biological biases. Moreover, we provide future perspectives with regard to new research questions, new epigenetic markers and recent technological advances that – as we envision – will move the field towards forensic epigenomics in the near future.

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Forensic Science International: Genetics
Department of Genetic Identification

Vidaki, A., & Kayser, M. (2018). Recent progress, methods and perspectives in forensic epigenetics. Forensic Science International: Genetics (Vol. 37, pp. 180–195). doi:10.1016/j.fsigen.2018.08.008