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Z Rechtsmed. 1988;101(3):161-71.

Cytokinetics of epidermic cells in skin from human cadavers. I. Dependency on the postmortal interval.

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  • 1Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Cologne, Federal Republic of Germany.


Punch biopsies taken from the extensor side of the thigh of 35 human cadavers were incubated in vitro with radioactively labeled thymidine (3H-thymidine = 3H-TdR, 14C-thymidine = 14C-TdR) to determine whether a relationship exists between changes in the proliferative activity of the skin and the postmortal interval after irreversible cardiac arrest. The cadavers were stored at 4 degrees C. Cadavers with indeterminable time of death or presence of intoxication, drug therapy with cytostatic agents, or a skin disease were excluded from the study. Single, double, or multiple biopsies were performed on the same cadaver; single labeling with 3H-TdR was done in all cases; double labeling with 3H-TdR and 14C-TdR in selected cases. No relevant changes in the labeling index (mean, 2.39 +/- 1.03%) were demonstrable within the examined postmortal interval of 77.75 h. The DNA synthesis time (ts) was, on the average, 4.75 +/- 1.44 h; a certain relationship to the postmortal interval existed since ts declined with increasing storage time. The potential doubling time (tpot) decreased accordingly, beginning with 181.7 h (mean storage time, 29.9 h) and ending with 137.7 h (mean storage time, 41.7 h). No statistically relevant differences, however, were established at the 1% level. Whereas both labeling index and tpot during the early postmortal interval are comparable with observations in live humans, ts was relatively short as compared to that for the epidermis of live humans.

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