Fluorescence test to identify deep smokers

Forensic Sci Int. 1986 May;31(1):21-6. doi: 10.1016/0379-0738(86)90068-x.


The lungs of deep smokers contain large numbers of alveolar macrophages with pigment granules in the cytoplasma that are demonstrable by means of fat stains and a distinct green-yellow inherent fluorescence at a wave length range of 350-450 nm. Systematic examinations to test the eluting effect of different solvents on the substances contained in the smoker cells revealed that only extraction in the polar solvent tetrahydrofurane and Folch's solution leads to a reduction of the inherent fluorescence of the pigment granules. Centrifugation of cell or tissue specimens of smoker lungs with Folch's solution results in the fluorescent substances passing into the chloroform phase of the extracting medium, which fluoresces milky-orange-green at a wave length of 366 nm under an ultraviolet lamp. As the fluorescence test is also independent of the degree of freshness of the corpse, extraction of the cell sediments of only a few milliliters of expressed lung tissue fluid or lung tissue mash allows to quickly establish a dead person's smoking habits to help identify the deceased.

MeSH terms

  • Histocytochemistry
  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Macrophages / analysis*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Pulmonary Alveoli / cytology*
  • Smoking*