Detection of cardiomyocyte apoptosis in forensic autopsy cases
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The purpose of the present study was to determine reliable parameters for the detection of apoptotic cells for use as a diagnostic marker during the early stage of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in forensic autopsy cases. Myocardial tissues taken from forensic autopsy cases were examined by immunohistochemical and molecular-biological methods using the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP biotin nick end-labelling (TUNEL) and the DNA laddering methods. In cases of AMI with a time period between 2 h from onset to death and 20 h post-mortem time, the nuclei of cardiomyocytes were stained positive with the TUNEL method and DNA fragmentation of myocardial cells was detected by agarose gel electrophoresis. Similar findings were obtained in cases of carbon monoxide (CO) intoxication. However, no apoptotic cells were found in other cases such as methamphetamine (MAP) intoxication, tetrodotoxin intoxication, alcohol intoxication, asphyxia, head injury, heart injury or myocarditis. These findings suggested that it would be possible to apply TUNEL-positive cells as a diagnostic marker during the early stages of AMI.
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