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J Neurochem. 2009 Sep;110(5):1400-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06233.x. Epub 2009 Jun 22.

Tryptophan is a marker of human postmortem brain tissue quality.

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Clinical Neurochemistry, National Parkinson Foundation Centre of Excellence Research Laboratory, Clinic and Policlinic for Psychiatry, Psychosomatic and Psychotherapy, University of Würzburg, Füchsleinstr. 15, Würzburg D-97080, Germany.


Postmortem human brain tissue is widely used in neuroscience research, but use of tissue originating from different brain bank centers is considered inaccurate because of possible heterogeneity in sample quality. There is thus a need for well-characterized markers to assess the quality of postmortem brain tissue. Toward this aim, we determined tryptophan (TRP) concentrations, phosphofructokinase-1 and glutamate decarboxylase activities in 119 brain tissue samples. These neurochemical parameters were tested in samples from autopsied individuals, including control and pathological cases provided by 10 different brain bank centers. Parameters were assessed for correlation with agonal state, postmortem interval, age and gender, brain region, preservation and freezing methods, storage conditions and storage time, RNA integrity, and tissue pH value. TRP concentrations were elevated significantly (p = 0.045) with increased postmortem interval; which might indicate increased protein degradation. Therefore, TRP concentration might be one useful and convenient marker for estimating the quality of human postmortem brain tissue.

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