Evaluation of DNA Degradation Using Flow Cytometry Promising Tool for Postmortem Interval Determination

Williams T., Soni S., White J., Can G. , Javan G. T.

AMERICAN JOURNAL OF FORENSIC MEDICINE AND PATHOLOGY, vol.36, no.2, pp.104-110, 2015 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 36 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Doi Number: 10.1097/paf.0000000000000146
  • Page Numbers: pp.104-110


Over the years, there have been numerous formulas proposed for use in determining the postmortem interval (PMI); however, no method is all encompassing and absolute. Even so, very little research has been undertaken to determine if there is a viable correlation between the rate of DNA degradation and PMI, which can be calculated from analysis by flow cytometry. In this study, we analyzed the rate of DNA degradation of spleen and brain tissues from 15 cadavers over a 96-hour period of time at 2 temperature conditions, that is, 21 degrees C (room temperature) and 4 degrees C (refrigerator) to mimic summer and winter weather, respectively. The resulting data were used to form a pattern that correlates DNA degradation to cell death occurrence. Statistical analyses were performed to determine the significance of the relationship between PMI and DNA degradation. Moreover, in search of alternative reliable organs of interest for PMI estimation, the results demonstrate that the brain has lesser DNA degradation as compared with the spleen. Thus, the current study suggests that the brain can be an organ of choice for PMI studies, but more research is underway in this aspect.