Re: [Histonet] postmortem tissue collection

From:Geoff McAuliffe

    Many years ago (I hate beginning my responses like that but it is 
true) several colleagues were able to get viable human retinal pigment 
epithelial cells more than 48 hours after death. Also, I know of viable 
olfactory (sensory) epithelial cells being harvested 24 hours after 
death. Of course, ambient temperature is a likely variable and not all 
cells die at the same time. I would think that the adipose tissue in the 
hypodermis would have a relatively slow metabolic rate and might be 
viable for 24 hours? You have little to lose by trying.


Rogerson Kemlo (ELHT) Pathology wrote:

>Interestingly I was reading about tissue death after death (so as to
>speak) on a Web Site dealing with Death (I'm strange like that); I was
>interested in rigor. I hadn't realised that some tissue deep within the
>cadaver can survive for many hours after death. I suppose it's those
>tissues that require little or no oxygen to survive; brain dies very
>rapidly. If I could remember the Site then I'd tell you but a search in
>Google under rigor may help. Wonder which bit of you dies last? Same in
>men and women?
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Y. Wang [] 
>Sent: 20 July 2005 00:20
>Subject: [Histonet] postmortem tissue collection
>Dear histonetters,
>I have a question regarding collection of human tissue. A colleague
>like to collect human tissue (skin and underlying adipose tissue) for 
>mechanical testing, histological analysis (cellular and structural 
>evaluation), IHC and protein analysis (extracellular matrix structure
>concentrations). They asked what would be a fair cut off time for tissue
>collection so that the effects of decay would not be a factor. Currently
>they have given the tissue bank a time of 12 hours postmortem (I'm not 
>very sure how the body is stored during this time or how this is 
>I've read that human decomposition starts approx. 4 min after death and 
>autolysis is quicker in tissues with high enzyme and water content. 
>However, in terms of the skin and underlying adipose tissue I didn't
>if there was an accepted 'cut off time' postmortem after which tissue 
>is considered far from representative of 'live' tissue and not worth 
>Can anyone give some insight? Any information or references would be 
>greatly appreciated.
>Thank you
>Senior Fellow
>Department of Bioengineering
>University of Washington
>Box 357962
>Seattle, WA 98195
>Tel.: (206)-221-5873
>Fax.: (206)-221-5874
>Histonet mailing list
>Histonet mailing list

Geoff McAuliffe, Ph.D.
Neuroscience and Cell Biology
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
675 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854
voice: (732)-235-4583; fax: -4029

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