Volume 44, Issue 5 (September 1999)
Evaluation of Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Membrane Test Assays for the Forensic Identification of Seminal Fluid
Prostate specific antigen (PSA, also known as p30), a glycoprotein produced by the prostatic gland and secreted into seminal plasma, is a marker used for demonstrating the presence of seminal fluid. Methods for the detection of PSA include Ouchterlony double diffusion, crossover electrophoresis, rocket immunoelectrophoresis, radial immunodiffusion, and ELISA. The extremely sensitive ELISA technique can detect PSA in concentrations as low as approximately 4 ng/mL. However, all these techniques are cumbersome and time consuming to perform in forensic laboratories, especially when only a few samples per week are processed. Various membrane tests are currently used in clinical settings to screen a patient's serum for the presence of PSA at levels greater than 4 ng/mL. In this study we evaluated three immunochromatographic PSA membrane tests by analyzing semen stains stored at room temperature for up to 30 years, post-coital vaginal swabs taken at different time after intercourse, semen-free vaginal swabs, and various female and male body fluids, including urine. The data demonstrate that PSA membrane test assays offer the same sensitivity as ELISA-based tests and provide a rapid approach for the forensic identification of seminal fluid. Furthermore, when the supernatant from a DNA extraction is used for the assay, there is essentially no DNA consumption for determining the presence of PSA in a forensic sample.