Cell death proteins as markers of early postmortem interval

Sara C. Zapico, Sofía T. Menéndez, Paula Núñez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Estimation of time since death is one of the challenges in forensic science. There are many approaches to estimate the postmortem interval, including both physical and thanatochemistry methods. Decomposition is triggered by a process called autolysis, which induces destructive changes in the cell leading to cell death. Based on the process of cell death signaling, this study analyzed the early postmortem interval (2-8 h since death) using the study of the mRNA expression of Fas Ligand (FasL) and phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) by Quantitative-PCR. Results of the study indicate a time-dependent increase in the mRNA levels of both proteins up until 6 h after death. Using a regression analysis in these first 6 h, a positive linear correlation was found between the mRNA expression of these proteins and the time since death. Since PTEN and FasL are implicated in signaling pathways, both proteins are potential candidates to analyze the time since death in time intervals of 6 h or less. Further research is needed to find additional cell death markers and expand the time period for time since death estimation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2957-2962
Number of pages6
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


  • Cell death markers
  • FasL
  • PTEN
  • Postmortem interval
  • mRNA


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