Direct detection of peptides and small proteins in fingermarks and determination of sex by MALDI mass spectrometry profiling

Analyst. 2012 Oct 21;137(20):4686-92. doi: 10.1039/c2an36074h.


Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (MALDI MS) can detect and image a variety of endogenous and exogenous compounds from latent fingermarks. This opportunity potentially provides investigators with both an image for suspect identification and chemical information to be used as additional intelligence. The latter becomes particularly important when the fingermark is distorted or smudged or when the suspect is not a previously convicted offender and therefore their fingerprints are not present in the National Fingerprint Database. One of the desirable pieces of intelligence would be the sex of the suspect from the chemical composition of a fingermark. In this study we show that the direct detection of peptides and proteins from fingermarks by MALDI MS Profiling (MALDI MSP), along with the multivariate modeling of the spectra, enables the determination of sex with 85% accuracy. The chemical analysis of the fingermark composition is expected to additionally provide information on traits such as nutritional habits, drug use or hormonal status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual
  • Dermatoglyphics
  • Female
  • Forensic Sciences
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Peptides / analysis*
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization*


  • Peptides
  • Proteins