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21.10.2016 | Case Report | Ausgabe 2/2017 Open Access

International Journal of Legal Medicine 2/2017

First application of a protein-based approach for time since death estimation

International Journal of Legal Medicine > Ausgabe 2/2017
Stefan Pittner, Bianca Ehrenfellner, Angela Zissler, Victoria Racher, Wolfgang Trutschnig, Arne C. Bathke, Alexandra M. Sänger, Walter Stoiber, Peter Steinbacher, Fabio C. Monticelli


Awareness of postmortem degradation processes in a human body is fundamental to develop methods for forensic time since death estimation (TDE). Currently, applied approaches are all more or less limited to certain postmortem phases, or have restrictions on behalf of circumstances of death. Novel techniques, however, rarely exceed basic research phases due to various reasons. We report the first application of a novel method, based on decay of muscle proteins, in a recent case of murder-suicide, where other TDE methods failed to obtain data. We detected considerably different protein degradation profiles in both individuals involved and compared the data to our presently available database. We obtained statistical evidence for un-simultaneous death and therefore received valuable information to trace the progression of events based on protein degradation. Although we could not sensibly convert the data to respective times of death, this case highlights the potential for future application and elucidates the necessary further steps to develop a viable TDE method.

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