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Microbiota Composition and Pulmonary Surfactant Protein Expression as Markers of Death by Drowning

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Pathological diagnosis of drowning remains a challenge for forensic science, because of a lack of pathognomonic findings. We analyzed microbiota and surfactant protein in the lungs for a novel diagnosis of drowning. All rats were divided into drowning, postmortem submersion, and control groups. The water, lungs, closed organs (kidney and liver), and cardiac blood in rats were assayed by targeting 16S ribosomal RNA of Miseq sequencing. Lung samples were analyzed by immunohistochemical staining for surfactant protein A. The closed organs and cardiac blood of drowned group have a lot of aquatic microbes, which have not been detected in postmortem submersion group. Furthermore, intra‐alveolar granular staining of surfactant protein A (SP‐A) was severely observed in the drowned group than the postmortem submersion and control groups. The findings suggested that the presence of aquatic microbiota in the closed organs and increased expression of SP‐A could be markers for a diagnosis of drowning.
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Keywords: drowning; forensic science; freshwater; microbial forensics; microbiota; seawater; surfactant protein A

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2017

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