Transformation of squalene and its by-products in fingermarks over time under different storage conditions (light, dark and underwater) was examined through ultrahigh-pressure liquid chromatography high resolution accurate mass Orbitrap™ mass spectrometry. Complications of assessing fingermark compositional variation over time using multiple samples with varying initial compositions were elucidated and a more rational approach was successfully demonstrated. Squalene was detected in all fresh natural fingermarks and the amount ranged between 0.20 to 11.32 μg/5 fingertips. A notable difference in the transformation of squalene was observed with different storage conditions, where a dark aquatic environment accelerated degradation of squalene compared to dark but dry conditions. Squalene monohydroperoxide was extremely short-lived in natural deposits while the amount of squalene epoxide was still increasing relative to the initial amount, after ageing under dark and aquatic conditions for up to 7 days. Some oxidation by-products of cholesterol were also tentatively identified, which exhibited a growth over time against their initial concentration under any of the storage condition tested. These by-products, therefore, show potential as biomarkers for targeted visualisation of aged deposits.
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LCMS of latent fingermarks ESI V1
LCMS of latent fingermarks graphicabstract V1