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Research Database PMU-SQQUID

Does altered protein metabolism interfere with postmortem degradation analysis for PMI estimation?
Zissler, A; Ehrenfellner, B; Foditsch, EE; Monticelli, FC; Pittner, S
INT J LEGAL MED. 2018; 132(5): 1349-1356.
Originalarbeiten (Zeitschrift)


Keller Elena Esra


An accurate estimation of the postmortem interval (PMI) is a central aspect in forensic routine. Recently, a novel approach based on the analysis of postmortem muscle protein degradation has been proposed. However, a number of questions remain to be answered until sensible application of this method to a broad variety of forensic cases is possible. To evaluate whether altered in vivo protein metabolism interferes with postmortem degradation patterns, we conducted a comparative study. We developed a standardized animal degradation model in rats, and collected additional muscle samples from animals recovering from muscle injury and from rats with developed disuse muscle atrophy after induced spinal cord injury. All samples were analyzed by SDS-PAGE and Western blot, labeling well-characterized muscle proteins. Tropomyosin was found to be stable throughout the investigated PMI and no alterations were detected in regenerating and atrophic muscles. In contrast, significant predictable postmortem changes occurred in desmin and vinculin protein band patterns. While no significant deviations from native patterns were detected in at-death samples of disuse muscle atrophy, interestingly, samples of rats recovering from muscle injury revealed additional desmin and vinculin degradation bands that did not occur in this form in any of the examined postmortem samples regardless of PMI. It remains to be investigated whether in vivo-altered metabolism influences postmortem degradation kinetics or if such muscle samples undergo postmortem degradation in a regular fashion.

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)

PMI estimation
Skeletal muscle