Ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate in autopsy samples 27 years after death

Authors: Politi, Lucia1; Morini, Luca2; Mari, Francesco3; Groppi, Angelo2; Bertol, Elisabetta3

Source: International Journal of Legal Medicine, Volume 122, Number 6, November 2008 , pp. 507-509(3)

Publisher: Springer

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Abstract:

The unique case of a 50-year-old known alcoholic whose corpse was exhumed 27 years after death is reported. The man apparently committed suicide by hanging, but many years later the case was questioned and homicide—linked to a long-lasting serial killer case—was suspected. Thus, the corpse was exhumed, and at the autopsy it was found to be naturally mummified. This fact permitted the analysis of body tissues with the aim to investigate the persistence of ethanol conjugates in the biological material 27 years after death. Fragments of liver and kidney, a blood clot, and a hair strand were collected and submitted to liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry analysis. Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and ethyl sulfate (EtS) were identified and quantified in the liver, the kidney, and the blood clot. Hair analysis was found to be severely affected by ion suppression even after solid phase extraction. Consequently, EtG was identified in all hair segments (0–3 cm, 3–6 cm, and 6–10 cm), but no reliable quantification could be carried out. In summary, our findings demonstrate that, notwithstanding the expected conjugate degradation, EtG and EtS can be indicative of ante-mortem use of alcohol even many years after death.

Keywords: Ethyl glucuronide; Ethyl sulfate; Postmortem

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00414-008-0273-z

Affiliations: 1: Department of Anatomy, Histology and Legal Medicine, Division of Forensic Toxicology, University of Florence, Viale Morgagni, 85, I-50134, Firenze, Italy, Email: lucia.politi@unifi.it 2: Department of Legal Medicine and Public Health, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy 3: Department of Anatomy, Histology and Legal Medicine, Division of Forensic Toxicology, University of Florence, Viale Morgagni, 85, I-50134, Firenze, Italy

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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