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Int J Legal Med. 2000;113(4):240-3.

Onset of rigor mortis is earlier in red muscle than in white muscle.

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Department of Forensic Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan.


Rigor mortis is thought to be related to falling ATP levels in muscles postmortem. We measured rigor mortis as tension determined isometrically in three rat leg muscles in liquid paraffin kept at 37 degrees C or 25 degrees C--two red muscles, red gastrocnemius (RG) and soleus (SO) and one white muscle, white gastrocnemius (WG). Onset, half and full rigor mortis occurred earlier in RG and SO than in WG both at 37 degrees C and at 25 degrees C even though RG and WG were portions of the same muscle. This suggests that rigor mortis directly reflects the postmortem intramuscular ATP level, which decreases more rapidly in red muscle than in white muscle after death. Rigor mortis was more retarded at 25 degrees C than at 37 degrees C in each type of muscle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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