Postmortem determination of concentrations of stress hormones in various body fluids—is there a dependency between adrenaline/noradrenaline quotient, cause of death and agony time?

Authors: Wilke, N.; Janßen, H.; Fahrenhorst, C.; Hecker, H.; Manns, M.; Brabant, E.-G.; Tröger, H.; Breitmeier, D.

Source: International Journal of Legal Medicine, Volume 121, Number 5, September 2007 , pp. 385-394(10)

Publisher: Springer

Buy & download fulltext article:


Price: $47.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


To find out whether a certain cause of death or a certain length of an agonal period shows specific adrenaline or noradrenaline profiles, heart blood, femoral vein blood, liquor, urine and vitreous humour were taken from corpses (n = 98) at the Medical School Hannover, and noradrenaline and adrenaline were determined using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Corpses were classified according to the following five categories: short agony, long agony, state after hanging, state after asphyxiation and state after CPR with documented administration of epinephrine. Once results were collected the adrenaline/noradrenaline quotient was determined. It became clear that there were no significant differences regarding the concentration of adrenaline and noradrenaline in the various body fluids in relation to the above-mentioned categories. The means adrenaline/noradrenaline quotients in femoral vein blood were 0.21 ± 0.29 for hanged persons, 0.38 ± 0.47 for asphyxiated persons, 0.17 ± 0.19 for those with short agony and 0.42 ± 0.43 for those with long agony, significantly below 1 (p < 0.001; p = 0.001; p = 0.003). For condition after CPR we found an adrenaline/noradrenaline quotient of 2.81 ± 5.8. In liquor the adrenaline/noradrenaline quotients for short agony was 0.17 ± 0.17, for hanged persons 0.18 ± 0.19 and for asphyxiated ones 0.30 ± 0.38, significantly lower than 1 (p < 0.001). In urine the adrenaline/noradrenaline quotients for all categories are lower than 1 (p < 0.001); short agony (0.13 ± 0.09), long agony (0.21 ± 0.16), hanged (0.15 ± 0.16), asphyxiated (0.14 ± 0.08) and CPR (0.14 ± 0.06). In vitreous humour the quotients for short agony (0.14 ± 0.28), long agony (0.13 ± 0.12), hanged (0.07 ± 0.09) and asphyxiated (0.09 ± 0.11) are lower than 1 (p < 0.001). The spread of data for the adrenaline/noradrenaline quotient did not allow for any conclusions about cause of death and length of agony in individual cases.

Keywords: Adrenaline/noradrenaline quotient; Asphyxiation; Hanging; Postmortem

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Email:

Publication date: September 1, 2007

Related content


Free Content
Free content
New Content
New content
Open Access Content
Open access content
Subscribed Content
Subscribed content
Free Trial Content
Free trial content

Text size:

A | A | A | A
Share this item with others: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. print icon Print this page