Post-mortem interval estimative through determination of catalase and Δ-aminolevulinate dehydratase activities in hepatic, renal, skeletal muscle and cerebral tissues of Swiss mice

Biomarkers. 2019 Jul;24(5):478-483. doi: 10.1080/1354750X.2019.1619837. Epub 2019 May 27.


Purpose: Determining the post-mortem interval (PMI) is one of the challenging tasks in forensic science due to the lack of quick and inexpensive methods. Our objective is to develop innovative and alternative means for PMI evaluation. Methods: The relationship between PMI and enzymatic modifications in mice tissues was described. After being sacrificed, Swiss mice were randomly divided into groups according to the time elapsed since death. The activities of catalase (CAT) and δ-aminolevulinate dehydratase (δ-ALA-D) were determined in hepatic, renal, skeletal muscle and cerebral tissues. Results: CAT activity increased in kidney and brain 6 h after death and this increase remained for up to 24 h in the brain and 48 h in the kidney. δ-ALA-D had its activity decreased in the liver and kidneys in 6 h. In the skeletal muscle, δ-ALA-D activity was reduced only 48 h after death. Conversely, an increase on δ-ALA-D activity was observed in the brain at 6 h, followed by its decrease at 24 and 48 h. Conclusion: With the association of this set of results, it is possible to provide an estimate of PMI. Additionally, these results can be used as an auxiliary parameter associated with other methods to estimate PMI.

Keywords: Post-mortem markers; biological tissues; biomarkers; enzyme; forensic science; time of death.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autopsy
  • Catalase* / metabolism
  • Cerebrum / enzymology
  • Enzyme Assays
  • Kidney / enzymology
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Mice
  • Muscle, Skeletal / enzymology
  • Porphobilinogen Synthase* / metabolism
  • Postmortem Changes*
  • Time Factors


  • Catalase
  • Porphobilinogen Synthase