Nav: Home

Gene expression patterns may help determine time of death

February 13, 2018

International team of scientists led by Roderic Guigó at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona showed that changes in gene expression in different tissues triggered by death can be used to predict the time of death of an individual. As reported in a paper published in Nature Communications this week, researchers suggest that by analysing a few readily available tissues (for example lung or skin tissue), the post-mortem interval (time elapsed since death) can be determined with considerable accuracy and may have implications for forensic analyses.

It all started with the GTEx project, which aimed at creating a reference database and tissue bank for scientists to study how genomic variants affect gene activity and disease susceptibility. GTEx was designed to sample as many tissues as possible from a large number of individuals in order to understand the causal effects of genes and variants, and which tissues contribute to predisposition to disease. "GTEx data allow us to ask questions about genetic variation and its effects on gene expression both in one tissue and across many tissues. Since the samples we are using all come from deceased donors, we need to find out if there were changes in gene expression related to the death or the time of death, so we could better model our predictions of variation between tissues or in disease," explains Roderic Guigó, lead author of this study and coordinator of the Bioinformatics and Genomics Programme at the CRG.

To understand the tissue-specific changes to gene expression following the death of a person, Roderic Guigó and his colleagues studied RNA-sequencing data of over 7,000 samples from 36 different tissues obtained from 540 donor within the GTEx project. They show that the time since death has an effect on gene expression and that this effect varies from tissue to tissue. The authors developed models for the prediction of the post-mortem interval based on these tissue-specific gene expression changes using high-throughput sequencing of the cell.

"We found that many genes change expression over relatively short post-mortem intervals, in a largely tissue specific manner. This information helps us to better understand variation and also it allows us to identify the transcriptional events triggered by death in an organism," adds Pedro G. Ferreira, CRG Alumnus currently at the Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology, University of Porto in Portugal.

Researchers have studied the effect of different covariates on biological analysis. The model could be further improved to make it applicable to a forensics scenario and to devise a protocol for the potential implementation in forensic pathology.
-end-


Center for Genomic Regulation

Related Disease Articles:

Findings support role of vascular disease in development of Alzheimer's disease
Among adults who entered a study more than 25 years ago, an increasing number of midlife vascular risk factors, such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking, were associated with elevated levels of brain amyloid (protein fragments linked to Alzheimer's disease) later in life, according to a study published by JAMA.
Dietary factors associated with substantial proportion of deaths from heart disease, stroke, and disease
Nearly half of all deaths due to heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes in the US in 2012 were associated with suboptimal consumption of certain dietary factors, according to a study appearing in the March 7 issue of JAMA.
Study links changes in oral microbiome with metabolic disease/risk for dental disease
A team of scientists from The Forsyth Institute and the Dasman Diabetes Institute in Kuwait have found that metabolic diseases, which are characterized by high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and obesity -- leads to changes in oral bacteria and puts people with the disease at a greater risk for poor oral health.
Fatty liver disease contributes to cardiovascular disease and vice versa
For the first time, researchers have shown that a bi-directional relationship exists between fatty liver disease and cardiovascular disease.
Seroprevalence and disease burden of chagas disease in south Texas
A paper published in PLOS Neglected Diseases led by researchers at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine suggests that the disease burden in southern Texas is much higher than previously thought.
Maternal chronic disease linked to higher rates of congenital heart disease in babies
Pregnant women with congenital heart defects or type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of giving birth to babies with severe congenital heart disease and should be monitored closely in the prenatal period, according to a study published in CMAJ.
Citrus fruits could help prevent obesity-related heart disease, liver disease, diabetes
Oranges and other citrus fruits are good for you -- they contain plenty of vitamins and substances, such as antioxidants, that can help keep you healthy.
Gallstone disease may increase heart disease risk
A history of gallstone disease was linked to a 23 percent increased risk of developing coronary heart disease.
New disease gene will lead to better screening for pediatric heart disease
Cardiomyopathy, or a deterioration of the ability of the heart muscle to contract, generally leads to progressive heart failure.
Early weight loss in Parkinson's disease patients may signify more serious form of disease
A study led by a Massachusetts General Hospital investigator finds evidence of an association between weight loss in patients with early Parkinson's disease and more rapid disease progression.

Related Disease Reading:

Pathophysiology: The Biologic Basis for Disease in Adults and Children
by Kathryn L. McCance RN PhD (Author), Sue E. Huether RN PhD (Author)

How to Make Disease Disappear
by Rangan Chatterjee (Author)

Disease: The Story of Disease and Mankind's Continuing Struggle Against It
by Mary Dobson (Author)

Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 2-Volume Set
by Douglas P. Zipes MD (Author), Peter Libby MD PhD (Author), Robert O. Bonow MD MS (Author), Douglas L. Mann MD (Author), Gordon F. Tomaselli MD (Author)

Robbins & Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease (Robbins Pathology)
by Vinay Kumar MBBS MD FRCPath (Author), Abul K. Abbas MBBS (Author), Jon C. Aster MD PhD (Author)

The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook: Over 125 Delicious, Life-Changing, Plant-Based Recipes
by Ann Crile Esselstyn (Author), Jane Esselstyn (Author)

Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases: 2-Volume Set
by John E. Bennett MD MACP (Author), Raphael Dolin MD (Author), Martin J. Blaser MD (Author)

Pathophysiology of Heart Disease: A Collaborative Project of Medical Students and Faculty
by Leonard S. Lilly MD (Author)

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure
by Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. (Author)

Red Book 2018: Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases
by David W. Kimberlin MD FAAP (Editor), Sarah S. Long MD FAAP (Editor), Michael T. Brady MD FAAP (Editor), Mary Anne Jackson MD FAAP (Editor)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Circular
We're told if the economy is growing, and if we keep producing, that's a good thing. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers explore circular systems that regenerate and re-use what we already have. Guests include economist Kate Raworth, environmental activist Tristram Stuart, landscape architect Kate Orff, entrepreneur David Katz, and graphic designer Jessi Arrington.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#504 The Art of Logic
How can mathematics help us have better arguments? This week we spend the hour with "The Art of Logic in an Illogical World" author, mathematician Eugenia Cheng, as she makes her case that the logic of mathematics can combine with emotional resonance to allow us to have better debates and arguments. Along the way we learn a lot about rigorous logic using arguments you're probably having every day, while also learning a lot about our own underlying beliefs and assumptions.