Histochemical and Immunohistochemical Methods for the Postmortem Interval Estimation in Human Tissues: A Review

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

Clivia Guerrero-Urbina; Mariano del Sol & Gabriel M. Fonseca


postmortem interval (IPM) is an important challenge to be solved in forensic pathology, and it consists in determine the time elapsed since death until the autopsy. Given the low reliability of some methods due to the great influence of external factors, Histochemistry (HQ) and Immunohistochemistry (IHQ), among others, have received considerable attention for their levels of objectivity in forensic investigation. A scoping review of experimental studies that apply HQs and IHQs methods to estimate the MPI on human cadaveric material is presented. We identified 1053 articles, of which 12 met the criteria; we added 4 articles through a manual search (n = 16 articles). Germany was the most productive country, with 8 articles. HQ techniques of AgNORs, TRAP and PAS were used in 5 studies (on sweat glands, skin, liver, bone marrow and labial mucosa), while IHQs techniques were used with different antigenic groups in 12 studies (on pancreas, brain, lung, thyroid, liver, pituitary glands, sweat glands and gingival mucosa). IPM estimates were possible with margins between 2-3 hours up to 20 days depending on the technique. The analysis of oral tissues ensures a non-invasive route, easily accessible and under natural protection to the influence of environmental factors. Although there is no single method that reliably allows these estimates, the introduction of new techniques would prevent the production of errors.

KEY WORDS: Immunohistochemistry; Histochemistry; Postmortem interval estimation; Medicolegal autopsy.

How to cite this article

GUERRERO-URBINA, C.; DEL SOL, M. & FONSECA, G. M. Histochemical and immunohistochemical methods for the postmortem interval estimation in human tissues: A review. Int. J. Morphol., 38(2):241-246, 2020.