[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pastoral nomadism, as a successful economic and social system drawing on mobile herding, long-distance trade, and cavalry warfare, affected all polities of the Eurasian continent. The role that arid Inner Asia, particularly the areas of northwestern China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia, played in the emergence of this phenomenon remains a fundamental and still challenging question in prehistoric archaeology of the Eurasian steppes. The cemetery of Liushiu (Xinjiang, China) reveals burial features, bronze bridle bits, weaponry, adornment, horse skulls, and sheep/goat bones, which, together with paleopathological changes in human skeletons, indicate the presence of mobile pastoralists and their flocks at summer pastures in the Kunlun Mountains, ∼2,850 m above sea level. Radiocarbon dates place the onset of the burial activity between 1108 and 893 B.C. (95% probability range) or most likely between 1017 and 926 B.C. (68%). These data from the Kunlun Mountains show a wider frontier within the diversity of mobile pastoral economies of Inner Asia and support the concept of multiregional transitions toward Iron Age complex pastoralism and mounted warfare.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 09/2011; 108(38):15733-8. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine whether a 2,700-year-old tumor can be reliably diagnosed using microscopic and proteomic techniques and whether such prostate carcinomas show the same morphological pattern at the micro-level as modern-day carcinomas, this case was investigated. A 40-50-year-old Scythian king who lived during the Iron Age in the steppe of Southern Siberia (Russia) suffered from macroscopically visible osteoblastic and osteoclastic lesions throughout his entire skeleton. Macro-morphological (macroscopy, endoscopy, radiology) and micro-morphological techniques (histology, scanning-electron microscopy) as well as proteomic techniques (1-D- and 2-D-electrophoresis, Western blot) were applied. The results of the morphological and biochemical investigation proved that this mature male suffered for many years from and probably died of a carcinoma of the prostate. The diagnosis mainly rests on the results of the microscopic examination of the lesions and the positive evidence of PSA, which is an important marker for the diagnosis of prostate cancer. It is remarkable that, in this ancient case, the morphological pattern at the microlevel is the same as in recent cases. The loss of the spongy bone substance (red bone marrow) provoked chronic anemia during the final months of the life of this king. The proteomic techniques applied are new for the investigation of recent and ancient macerated bones. Sensitive and reliable biochemical markers (PSA) are an important precondition to detect such tumors in recent and ancient materials. Currently, this is the oldest known case of prostate cancer diagnosed reliably by morphological and biochemical techniques.
International Journal of Cancer 01/2008; 121(12):2591-5. · 6.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Molecular paleopathology has become an emerging field that helps to characterize molecular markers of past disease. Especially highly sensitive genetic techniques such as PCR are an important means of unraveling changes in ancient DNA extracted from bone tissue, teeth and mummified soft tissue. In the present study, excavated bone material from the skeleton of a Scythian sovereign, morphologically and immunohistochemically suspicious of a metastatic prostate carcinoma, was analyzed by PCR for amplifiable human gene sequences. Short sequences of the human GADD153 DNA repair gene and p53 tumor suppressor gene were detectable which revealed the absence of mutations according to the data of automatic sequencing. Using bisulfite-treated DNA from the bone, methylation-specific PCR detected hypermethylated promoter sequences of the p14ARF tumor suppressor gene. In summary, these data show that it is possible: a) to amply short human DNA stretches from 2,500-year-old bone material, b) to detect tumorigenetically important genes within this DNA, c) to detect epigenetically modified DNA in ancient bone material. The finding of hypermethylated p14ARF sequences merits attention because this may indicate an intraosseal neoplastic process and may corroborate the hypothesis of prostate cancer.
Anticancer research 01/2007; 27(6B):4117-9. · 1.71 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: For the first time we have extracted, solubilized and identified growth factors, such as insulin growth factor II (IGF-II), bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2), and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), from archaeological compact human bone and tooth dentin dating from the late pre-ceramic pottery Neolithic (late PPNB) and the early Middle Ages. These factors are typical of special physiological or pathological situations in the metabolism of bone. The extracellular matrix proteins from bone and teeth of individuals from the late PPNB and early Middle Ages were separated by 2-D electrophoresis and more than 300 different protein spots were detected by silver staining. The matrix protein patterns of compact bone and tooth from the same individual (early Middle Ages) are very different and only 16% of the protein spots were detected in both compact bone and tooth dentin.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In a good state of preservation, bone conserves the entire protein pattern of extracellular bone matrix proteins over thousands of years. The quality of the profiles of matrix proteins isolated from ancient bones (ranging from the pre-Pottery Neolithic Phase to Early Modern Times from different archaeological sites in different geographical areas), separated by electrophoresis, is as good as those from recent bones. Molecules arising from collagenous proteins (e.g., collagen type I), from the noncollagenous group (e.g., osteonectin), and from the immune system (e.g., immunoglobulin G) were identified in Western blots by specific antibodies. A comparative study of the immunoglobulin G content of the bones of five prehistoric children showed the lowest immunoglobulin G content in a child who suffered from chronic scurvy. Ancient bone proteins were also separated by two-dimensional electrophoresis. This technique makes fractionation of the complex protein mixtures of extracellular bone matrix more reproducible. Bone retains a chemical memory of earlier metabolic stimuli in its configuration of collagenous and noncollagenous proteins. In combination with the results of the microscopic examination of ancient bone, it should be possible to obtain more reliable information on the history and the evolution of diseases, based on analysis of intact proteins.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology 02/2004; 123(1):30-9. · 2.48 Impact Factor