Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

Reduction in Purkinje Fiber Number in Rats Undergone Fatal Electrocution

Huang, Quan-Yong MD,; Chen, Yu-Chuan MD,; Liu, Shui-Ping MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2012 - Volume 33 - Issue 1 - p 19–21
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181eafbe7
Original Articles

The aim of this study was to investigate changes in the number of Purkinje fibers in cardiac conduction tissue during fatal electrocution. A total of 16 Sprague Dawley rats were divided into 2 groups as follows: the electrocution group and the control group. Animals were deeply anesthetized with sodium pentobarbital and, in the electrocution group, all 8 rats underwent a fatal electrical shock (220 v, 50 Hz) followed by cervical dislocation. In the control group, all 8 rats underwent execution by cervical dislocation. Following death, hearts were rapidly excised and perfused with 1% paraformaldehyde before tissues of the left ventricular anterior wall (LVAW) were isolated. The microscopic structure of the Purkinje fibers were subsequently analyzed using conventional hematoxylin and eosin staining. A majority of the Purkinje fibers were located in groups among the cardiac muscle of the LVAW. A significant reduction in Purkinje fiber expression was displayed in the electrocution group compared with the control group (P < 0.05). The mean total number of Purkinje fibers for the electrocution and control groups were 59 ± 11 and 3287 ± 19 cells, respectively (P < 0.05). The estimated number of Purkinje fibers in the LVAW of the control group was significantly greater than observed in the electrocution group (41.09 ± 0.24 vs. 0.7375 ± 0.14, P < 0.05). The findings of the current study suggest that such a reduction would be reflected in abnormal cardiac conduction and a possible cause of sudden death.

From the Department of Forensic Pathology, Zhongshan School of Medicine, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China.

Manuscript received October 14, 2009; accepted January 31, 2010.

Supported by Guangdong Medical College (XQ0426).

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Shui-Ping Liu, MD, Department of Forensic Pathology, ZhongshanSchool of Medicine, Sun Yat-Sen University, Zhongshan 2ndroad 74, Guangzhou 510080, People’s Republic of China. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.