Assessing the use of thermal treatment to preserve the intact proteomes of post-mortem heart and brain tissue

Proteomics. 2009 Oct;9(19):4433-44. doi: 10.1002/pmic.200900287.


Protein degradation that occurs in tissue during post-mortem interval or sample preparation is problematic in quantitative analyses as confounding variables may arise. Ideally, such artefacts should be prevented by preserving the native proteome during sample preparation. We assessed the efficacy of thermal treatment (TT) to preserve the intact proteome of mouse heart and brain tissue in comparison to standard snap-freezing with liquid nitrogen (LN). Tissue samples were collected, either snap frozen (LN), subjected to TT, or snap frozen followed by thermal treatment, and subsequently analysed by 2-DE. In heart tissue, following quantitative image analysis, we observed 77 proteins that were significantly altered across the three treatment groups (ANOVA, p<0.05). Principal component and clustering analyses revealed LN and TT to be equally beneficial. These findings were confirmed by MS identification of the significantly altered proteins. In brain tissue, 189 proteins were significantly differentially expressed across the three treatment groups (ANOVA, p<0.05). Brain tissue appeared to be more responsive to TT than heart and distinct clusters of differentially expressed proteins were observed across treatments. Overall, TT of brain tissue appears to have beneficial effects on protein stabilisation during sample preparation with preservation of high-molecular-weight proteins and reduction in protein fragmentation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Two-Dimensional / methods
  • Freezing*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Myocardium / chemistry*
  • Postmortem Changes*
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Proteome / analysis*
  • Proteomics / methods*
  • Tissue Preservation / methods


  • Proteins
  • Proteome