Paul L Wood and Natalie R Shirley
Background: Biochemical determinations of human postmortem interval have focused on acute biomarkers of alterations in metabolites and in microbial generation of amino acids, organic acids, and volatile amines and acids. The need for a reliable biomarker of tissue deterioration on a longer time scale is clear. To determine if structural glycerophospholipids might be of value in this regard, we undertook a lipidomics evaluation of human skeletal muscle at several intervals postmortem.
Methods: Human anterior quadriceps muscle was excised at 1, 9, and 24 days postmortem. Tissue was extracted with tert butyl methylether and methanol and the extracts submitted to shotgun lipidomics analysis.
Results: Sterol sulfates, very-long-chain fatty acids, choline plasmalogens, ethanolamine plasmalogens, and phosphatidylglycerols all were found to decline over the 24 day postmortem period. Free fatty acids were found to increase over the same time period.
Conclusion: Tissue degradation over time postmortem appears to be reliably monitored by the decline in complex structural glycerophospholipids. The contribution of microbes to this degradation remains to be defined. These preliminary data support further evaluations of this lipidomics approach.PDF
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