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American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology:
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Is Flow Cytometric Evaluation of DNA Degradation a Reliable Method to Investigate the Early Postmortem Period?

Di Nunno, Nunzio R. M.D.; Costantinides, Fulvio M.D.; Bernasconi, Paola M.D.; Bottin, Cristina; Melato, Mauro M.D.

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Abstract

The time of death can be established by determining the length of the postmortem interval. Many methods have been proposed to achieve this goal. Flow cytometric evaluation of DNA degradation seems to be reliable for the first 72 hours after death. Our study evaluated the correspondence of the corruption process between in vitro and corpse tissues. We chose spleen tissue to perform our investigation because it is rich in nucleated cells. Results showed a precise correspondence between the two kinds of samples in the time period between 24 and 36 hours. The period from 36 to 72 hours is characterized by a much looser correspondence than that found in the first period. After the first 72 hours, DNA denaturation is massive and does not allow useful cytofluorimetric readings. The spleen does not seem to be the most suitable organ for this type of investigation because it tends to colliquate very rapidly. We therefore are evaluating other organs to identify a more suitable tissue source for the investigation of longer postmortem period using flow cytometry.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.

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