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Temporal Sequence of Autolysis in the Cerebellar Cortex of the Mouse

Finnie, J.W., Blumbergs, P.C., Manavis, J.
Journal of comparative pathology 2016 v.154 no.4 pp. 323-328
ambient temperature, autolysis, cerebellum, cerebral cortex, cytoplasm, death, homogenization, mice, shrinkage, staining
This study examined the temporal sequence of post-mortem changes in the cerebellar cortical granular and Purkinje cell layers of mice kept at a constant ambient temperature for up to 4 weeks. Nuclei of granule cell microneurons became pyknotic early after death, increasing progressively until, by 7 days, widespread nuclear lysis resulted in marked cellular depletion of the granular layer. Purkinje cells were relatively unaltered until about 96 h post mortem, at which time there was shrinkage and multivacuolation of the amphophilic cytoplasm, nuclear hyperchromasia and, sometimes, a perinuclear clear space. By 7 days, Purkinje cells had hypereosinophilic cytoplasm and frequent nuclear pyknosis. By 2 weeks after death, Purkinje cells showed homogenization, the cytoplasm being uniformly eosinophilic, progressing to a ‘ghost-like’ appearance in which the cytoplasm had pale eosinophilic staining with indistinct cell boundaries, and nuclei often absent. The results of this study could assist in differentiating post-mortem autolysis from ante-mortem lesions in the cerebellar cortex and determining the post-mortem interval. Moreover, this information could be useful when interpreting brain lesions in valuable mice found dead unexpectedly during the course of biomedical experiments.