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Are animal models predictive for human postmortem muscle protein degradation?
AuthorEhrenfellner, Bianca ; Zissler, Angela ; Steinbacher, Peter ; Pittner, Stefan ; Monticelli, Fabio C.
Published in
International Journal of Legal Medicine, Berlin, 2017, Vol. 2017, page 1-7
PublishedSpringer Berlin Heidelberg, 2017
Document typeJournal Article
Keywords (EN)Animal model / Degradation / Human / Postmortem interval (PMI) / Protein / Skeletal muscle
URNurn:nbn:at:at-ubs:3-5042 Persistent Identifier (URN)
 The work is publicly available
Are animal models predictive for human postmortem muscle protein degradation? [1.22 mb]
Abstract (English)

A most precise determination of the postmortem interval (PMI) is a crucial aspect in forensic casework. Although there are diverse approaches available to date, the high heterogeneity of cases together with the respective postmortal changes often limit the validity and sufficiency of many methods. Recently, a novel approach for time since death estimation by the analysis of postmortal changes of muscle proteins was proposed. It is however necessary to improve the reliability and accuracy, especially by analysis of possible influencing factors on protein degradation. This is ideally investigated on standardized animal models that, however, require legitimization by a comparison of human and animal tissue, and in this specific case of protein degradation profiles. Only if protein degradation events occur in comparable fashion within different species, respective findings can sufficiently be transferred from the animal model to application in humans. Therefor samples from two frequently used animal models (mouse and pig), as well as forensic cases with representative protein profiles of highly differing PMIs were analyzed. Despite physical and physiological differences between species, western blot analysis revealed similar patterns in most of the investigated proteins. Even most degradation events occurred in comparable fashion. In some other aspects, however, human and animal profiles depicted distinct differences. The results of this experimental series clearly indicate the huge importance of comparative studies, whenever animal models are considered. Although animal models could be shown to reflect the basic principles of protein degradation processes in humans, we also gained insight in the difficulties and limitations of the applicability of the developed methodology in different mammalian species regarding protein specificity and methodic functionality.

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