Quantitative Analysis of DNA Degradation in the Dead Body

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Postmortem degradation of DNA was quantitatively estimated. Brain, liver, kidney and muscle samples were obtained from sacrificed rats left at 20℃ or 4℃. The quantity of DNA was measured by real-time PCR using a primer set for a sequence in the Rsrc 1 gene. When the quantity of amplified DNA using 10ng Human Genomic DNA was defined as 100 RFU, the quantities in the brain, liver, kidney and skeletal muscle (each 2μg of dry weight) on the day of sacrifice were 253±11, 338±22, 556±14 and 531±12 Relative Fluorescence Units (RFU), respectively (mean±S.E., n=5). The quantity of amplified DNA decreased to below 10 RFU in 1-3 weeks in the liver, kidney and skeletal muscle at 20℃, while that in the brain was more than 10 RFU for six weeks, demonstrating the usefulness of the brain as a sample for DNA analysis of decaying corpses. It was suggested that quantifying the amplified DNA in the brain at 20℃ and in the liver at 4℃ as well as the ratio of the quantity of amplified DNA in the liver to the brain at 4℃ might be useful for diagnosing time of death. This study provides the first quantitative analysis of the postmortem progress of DNA degradation in the corpse.


  • Acta Medica Okayama

    Acta Medica Okayama 65 (5), 299-306, 2011-10

    Okayama University Medical School

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