Stress exposure histories revealed by biochemical changes along accentuated lines in teeth

Christine Austin, Piyush Kumar, Elizabeth A. Carter, Joonsup Lee, Tanya M. Smith, Katie Hinde, Manish Arora, Peter A. Lay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The regular incremental secretion of enamel and dentine can be interrupted during periods of stress resulting in accentuated growth lines. These accentuated lines, visible under light microscopy, provide a chronology of an individual's stress exposure. Previously, we showed that small biochemical changes along accentuated growth lines detected by Raman spectroscopy, coincided with the timing of medical history events and disruptions of weight trajectory in teeth from captive macaques. Here, we translate those techniques to study biochemical changes related to illness and prolonged medical treatment during early infancy in humans. Chemometric analysis revealed biochemical changes related to known stress-induced changes in circulating phenylalanine as well as other biomolecules. Changes in phenylalanine are also known to affect biomineralization which is reflected in changes in the wavenumbers of hydroxyapatite phosphate bands associated with stress in the crystal lattice. Raman spectroscopy mapping of teeth is an objective, minimally-destructive technique that can aid in the reconstruction of an individual's stress response history and provide important information on the mixture of circulating biochemicals associated with medical conditions, as applied in epidemiological and clinical samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number138673
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Accentuated line
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Stress
  • Teeth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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