Improved estimation of postmortem interval with Cardiac Troponin T and improved analytical methods

Behnoush Memari, Florida International University


Accurate knowledge of the time since death, or postmortem interval (PMI), has enormous legal, criminological, and psychological impact. In this study, an investigation was made to determine whether the relationship between the degradation of the human cardiac structure protein Cardiac Troponin T and PMI could be used as an indicator of time since death, thus providing a rapid, high resolution, sensitive, and automated methodology for the determination of PMI. The use of Cardiac Troponin T (cTnT), a protein found in heart tissue, as a selective marker for cardiac muscle damage has shown great promise in the determination of PMI. An optimized conventional immunoassay method was developed to quantify intact and fragmented cTnT. A small sample of cardiac tissue, which is less affected than other tissues by external factors, was taken, homogenized, extracted with magnetic microparticles, separated by SDS-PAGE, and visualized with Western blot by probing with monoclonal antibody against cTnT. This step was followed by labeling and available scanners. This conventional immunoassay provides a proper detection and quantitation of cTnT protein in cardiac tissue as a complex matrix; however, this method does not provide the analyst with immediate results. Therefore, a competitive separation method using capillary electrophoresis with laser-induced fluorescence (CE-LIF) was developed to study the interaction between human cTnT protein and monoclonal anti-TroponinT antibody. Analysis of the results revealed a linear relationship between the percent of degraded cTnT and the log of the PMI, indicating that intact cTnT could be detected in human heart tissue up to 10 days postmortem at room temperature and beyond two weeks at 4C. The data presented demonstrates that this technique can provide an extended time range during which PMI can be more accurately estimated as compared to currently used methods. The data demonstrates that this technique represents a major advance in time of death determination through a fast and reliable, semi-quantitative measurement of a biochemical marker from an organ protected from outside factors.

Subject Area

Analytical chemistry|Biochemistry

Recommended Citation

Memari, Behnoush, "Improved estimation of postmortem interval with Cardiac Troponin T and improved analytical methods" (2008). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3353585.