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

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Abstract:

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

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00414-006-0132-8

Affiliations: Email: wilke.nadine@mh-hannover.de

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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