Volume 35, Issue 6 (November 1990)
The Usefulness of Lung Surfactant Phospholipids (LSPs) in the Diagnosis of Drowning
The authors have studied the usefulness of some lung surfactant phospholipids (LSPs) isolated from lung tissues as markers of drowning. Two different groups of rabbits were sacrificed by drowning in fresh and salt water, and their phospholipid compositions were compared with those of a non-drowned control series.
For the phospholipids studied in lung lavages (phosphatidyl choline, phosphatidyl ethanolamine, and phosphatidyl glycerol) the proportions differed between the control group and the drowned group, and between the fresh-water and salt-water drowned animals. According to these results, the lipids we have analyzed can be employed as markers in forensic autopsies, where it is necessary to differentiate between death by drowning and postmortem immersion and between fresh-water and salt-water drowning.
In lung tissue, only phosphatidyl choline and phosphatidyl inositol showed significative differences.
These results also confirm that LSPs are strongly affected in drowning.