Histological examination of the pituitary glands in cases of fatal hypothermia.

01:33 EST 5th March 2015 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Histological examination of the pituitary glands in cases of fatal hypothermia."

Besides typical macroscopical findings in cases of death due to hypothermia (frost erythema, haemorrhagic gastric erosions) there are some histological changes (e.g. lipid accumulation in epithelial cells of renal proximal tubules) which can help to determine the cause of death. In the literature some changes of the pituitary gland are described in case of hypothermia, e.g. haemorrhage and hyperaemia of the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland (adenohypophysis) or a vacuolization of cells in the anterior pituitary. The validity of these morphological changes as hypothermia marker should be proved in our autopsy material. 17 pituitary glands in cases with verified fatal accidental hypothermia were examined histologically and immunohistochemically (HE, Ferric, Azan, LCA, C5b9) and compared with 61 pituitary glands of a matching control group (cases of natural and non-natural death without trauma and long agonal period). Autolytical changes complicated an evaluation but in 5.9% of the study group and 1.6% of the control group a vacuolization of cells could be verified. In none of the examined cases a distinct haemorrhage into the glandular tissue was detected. Histopathological characteristics which are described in the literature as pathogenetic for hypothermia could not be found. Differences concerning histological characteristics of the pituitary glands between cases of fatal hypothermia and the control group were not observed.


Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Bonn, Stiftsplatz 12, 53111 Bonn, Germany.

Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Forensic science international
ISSN: 1872-6283


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Medical and Biotech [MESH] Definitions

The interactions between the anterior pituitary and adrenal glands, in which corticotropin (ACTH) stimulates the adrenal cortex and adrenal cortical hormones suppress the production of corticotropin by the anterior pituitary.

A disease of the PITUITARY GLAND characterized by the excess amount of ADRENOCORTICOTROPIC HORMONE secreted. This leads to hypersecretion of cortisol (HYDROCORTISONE) by the ADRENAL GLANDS resulting in CUSHING SYNDROME.

Exocrine glands in animals which secrete scents which either repel or attract other animals, e.g. perianal glands of skunks, anal glands of weasels, musk glands of foxes, ventral glands of wood rats, and dorsal glands of peccaries.

Abnormally low BODY TEMPERATURE that is intentionally induced in warm-blooded animals by artificial means. In humans, mild or moderate hypothermia has been used to reduce tissue damages, particularly after cardiac or spinal cord injuries and during subsequent surgeries.

The inspection of one's own body, usually for signs of disease (e.g., BREAST SELF-EXAMINATION, testicular self-examination).

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