Journal Published Online: 01 May 2002
Volume 47, Issue 3

Visualization of Postmortem Chondrocyte Damage by Vital Staining and Confocal Laser Scanning 3D Microscopy



The present study was designed to investigate whether the combination of vital dyes [calcein acetomethyl ester and ethidium homodimer (LIVE/DEAD(®) Viability/Cytoxicity Kit)] together with confocal laser scanning 3D microscopy was a suitable process to detect postmortem chondrocyte damage, and whether this process could be used to establish postmortem interval.

Human knee cartilage from 13 autopsies (postmortem interval from 1 day to 2.5 months) was incubated with the two dyes. The chondrocytes revealed intense staining according to their vitality. For those cases that were stored mainly at 4°C there was a vitality of approximately 88 to 96% within the first 4.5 days, which decreased to 58% after 6 days and to 9% after 1.5 months. After 2 days and 14 days at summer temperatures there were 70% and 8% vital chondrocytes respectively. Three of the 13 cases showed that altered body and storage conditions limited the efficacy of the method.

Initial data suggested a time and temperature dependent increase in cell breakdown. Under stable cooling conditions the use of vital dyes and confocal laser scanning 3D microscopy to measure chondrocyte loss may be a valuable tool for estimating the postmortem interval.

Author Information

Lasczkowski, GE
Institute of Legal Medicine University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
Aigner, T
Institute of Pathology, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany
Gamerdinger, U
Institute of Pathology,University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
Weiler, G
Institute of Legal Medicine University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
Bratzke, H
Center of Legal Medicine, University of Frankfurt, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
Pages: 4
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Stock #: JFS2000258
ISSN: 0022-1198
DOI: 10.1520/JFS2000258