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A Systematic Approach to the Application of Soft Tissue Histopathology in Paleopathology.

Grove C, Peschel O, Nerlich AG - Biomed Res Int (2015)

Bottom Line: We established a reproducible histological ranking system for the evaluation of mummified tissue preservation.There are some organs with only poor conservation even in short term periods such as the kidneys and CNS.The identification of specific pathologies underlines the potential power of paleohistology.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Legal Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, 80336 Munich, Germany.

ABSTRACT
The application of histology to soft tissue remains offers an important technique to obtain diagnostically important information on various physiological and pathological conditions in paleopathology. In a series of 29 cases with mummified tissue ranging between 16 months and c. 5.200 years of postmortem time interval, we systematically investigated paleohistology and the preservation of various tissues. We established a reproducible histological ranking system for the evaluation of mummified tissue preservation. The application of this scheme to the series showed good tissue preservation of tissues with high connective tissue content but also fat tissue and connective tissue rich organs, such as lung tissue, while most other internal organs were less well preserved despite highly different postmortem time intervals. There are some organs with only poor conservation even in short term periods such as the kidneys and CNS. Artificial mummification does not provide better conservation than naturally mummified tissues; "cold" mummies may be much better conserved than those from desert areas. The identification of specific pathologies underlines the potential power of paleohistology.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Histological features of mummified tissue from individuals with a postmortem time interval between 16 months and c. 5 yrs. (a) Fat and connective tissue (subcutis) from mummy 3 (17 months) showing good conservation of tissue structures despite the loss of cell nuclei. Note the similarly well-preserved small blood vessel. (b) Lung tissue from mummy 7 (18 months). The alveoli are distended, and in the interstitium small deposits of anthracosis pigment prove the pulmonary origin. (c) Liver tissue from mummy 12 (5 yrs.) showing severe postmortem diagenesis of the hepatocytes but retained tissue structure with small portal fields. Note the pigment that proved to be the results of postmortem oxidation products. (d) CNS tissue from mummy 12 (5 yrs.). The structure of the parenchyma has gone lost; on the right side a small sheath of connective tissue indicates the meninges (all examples: original magnification ×200, staining: H&E).
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fig1: Histological features of mummified tissue from individuals with a postmortem time interval between 16 months and c. 5 yrs. (a) Fat and connective tissue (subcutis) from mummy 3 (17 months) showing good conservation of tissue structures despite the loss of cell nuclei. Note the similarly well-preserved small blood vessel. (b) Lung tissue from mummy 7 (18 months). The alveoli are distended, and in the interstitium small deposits of anthracosis pigment prove the pulmonary origin. (c) Liver tissue from mummy 12 (5 yrs.) showing severe postmortem diagenesis of the hepatocytes but retained tissue structure with small portal fields. Note the pigment that proved to be the results of postmortem oxidation products. (d) CNS tissue from mummy 12 (5 yrs.). The structure of the parenchyma has gone lost; on the right side a small sheath of connective tissue indicates the meninges (all examples: original magnification ×200, staining: H&E).

Mentions: Group I. Twelve of the most recent cases came from the files of the Department of Legal Medicine of the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich that had been obtained after exhumation for medicolegal reasons between 16 months and 5 years after death with more or less intense natural mummification. Ten cases (with a postmortem time interval between 16 and 19 months) had been autopsied from one cemetery site in Southern Bavaria (Sonthofen) as a result of a homicide series investigation (Figure 1). Unfortunately, in those cases no skin tissue was retained since this seemed to be not necessary for the forensic examination. Surprisingly, all these cases still presented with extensively preserved soft tissues including internal organs. Two more cases had been autopsied also for medicolegal reasons. One had been found as a naturally mummified corpse 5 years after death in her living apartment; the second case was a crypt burial (Figure 2).


A Systematic Approach to the Application of Soft Tissue Histopathology in Paleopathology.

Grove C, Peschel O, Nerlich AG - Biomed Res Int (2015)

Histological features of mummified tissue from individuals with a postmortem time interval between 16 months and c. 5 yrs. (a) Fat and connective tissue (subcutis) from mummy 3 (17 months) showing good conservation of tissue structures despite the loss of cell nuclei. Note the similarly well-preserved small blood vessel. (b) Lung tissue from mummy 7 (18 months). The alveoli are distended, and in the interstitium small deposits of anthracosis pigment prove the pulmonary origin. (c) Liver tissue from mummy 12 (5 yrs.) showing severe postmortem diagenesis of the hepatocytes but retained tissue structure with small portal fields. Note the pigment that proved to be the results of postmortem oxidation products. (d) CNS tissue from mummy 12 (5 yrs.). The structure of the parenchyma has gone lost; on the right side a small sheath of connective tissue indicates the meninges (all examples: original magnification ×200, staining: H&E).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4543791&req=5

fig1: Histological features of mummified tissue from individuals with a postmortem time interval between 16 months and c. 5 yrs. (a) Fat and connective tissue (subcutis) from mummy 3 (17 months) showing good conservation of tissue structures despite the loss of cell nuclei. Note the similarly well-preserved small blood vessel. (b) Lung tissue from mummy 7 (18 months). The alveoli are distended, and in the interstitium small deposits of anthracosis pigment prove the pulmonary origin. (c) Liver tissue from mummy 12 (5 yrs.) showing severe postmortem diagenesis of the hepatocytes but retained tissue structure with small portal fields. Note the pigment that proved to be the results of postmortem oxidation products. (d) CNS tissue from mummy 12 (5 yrs.). The structure of the parenchyma has gone lost; on the right side a small sheath of connective tissue indicates the meninges (all examples: original magnification ×200, staining: H&E).
Mentions: Group I. Twelve of the most recent cases came from the files of the Department of Legal Medicine of the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich that had been obtained after exhumation for medicolegal reasons between 16 months and 5 years after death with more or less intense natural mummification. Ten cases (with a postmortem time interval between 16 and 19 months) had been autopsied from one cemetery site in Southern Bavaria (Sonthofen) as a result of a homicide series investigation (Figure 1). Unfortunately, in those cases no skin tissue was retained since this seemed to be not necessary for the forensic examination. Surprisingly, all these cases still presented with extensively preserved soft tissues including internal organs. Two more cases had been autopsied also for medicolegal reasons. One had been found as a naturally mummified corpse 5 years after death in her living apartment; the second case was a crypt burial (Figure 2).

Bottom Line: We established a reproducible histological ranking system for the evaluation of mummified tissue preservation.There are some organs with only poor conservation even in short term periods such as the kidneys and CNS.The identification of specific pathologies underlines the potential power of paleohistology.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Institute of Legal Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, 80336 Munich, Germany.

ABSTRACT
The application of histology to soft tissue remains offers an important technique to obtain diagnostically important information on various physiological and pathological conditions in paleopathology. In a series of 29 cases with mummified tissue ranging between 16 months and c. 5.200 years of postmortem time interval, we systematically investigated paleohistology and the preservation of various tissues. We established a reproducible histological ranking system for the evaluation of mummified tissue preservation. The application of this scheme to the series showed good tissue preservation of tissues with high connective tissue content but also fat tissue and connective tissue rich organs, such as lung tissue, while most other internal organs were less well preserved despite highly different postmortem time intervals. There are some organs with only poor conservation even in short term periods such as the kidneys and CNS. Artificial mummification does not provide better conservation than naturally mummified tissues; "cold" mummies may be much better conserved than those from desert areas. The identification of specific pathologies underlines the potential power of paleohistology.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus