Disponible en: https://peerj.com/articles/11102/

The post-mortem interval (PMI) is the time elapsed since the dead of an individual until the body is found, which is relevant for forensic purposes. The miRNAs regulate the expression of some genes; and due to their small size, they can better support degradation, which makes them suitable for forensic analysis. In the present work, we evaluated the gene expression of miR-381-3p, miR-23b-3p, and miR-144-3p in skeletal muscle in a murine model at the early PMI.

We designed a rat model to evaluate the early PMI under controlled conditions. This model consisted in 25 rats divided into five groups of rats, that correspond to the 0, 3, 6, 12 and 24 hours of PMI. The 0 h-PMI was considered as the control group. Muscle samples were taken from each rat to analyze the expression of miR-381-3p, miR-23b-3p, and miR-144-3p by quantitative RT-PCR. The gene expression of each miRNA was expressed as Fold Change (FC) and compared among groups. To find the targets of these miRNAs and the pathways where they participate, we performed an in-silico analysis. From the gene targets of miR-381-3p identified in the silico analysis, the EPC1 gene was selected for gene expression analysis by quantitative RT-PCR in these samples. Also, to evaluate if miR-381-3p could predict the early PMI, a mixed effects model was calculated using its gene expression.

An upregulation of miR-381-3p was found at 24 h-PMI compared with the control group of 0 h-PMI and (FC = 1.02 vs. FC = 1.96; p = 0.0079). This was the opposite for miR-23b-3p, which had a down-regulation at 24 h-PMI compared to 0 h-PMI (FC = 1.22 vs. FC = 0.13; p = 0.0079). Moreover, the gene expression of miR-381-3p increased throughout the first 24 h of PMI, contrary to miR-23b-3p. The targets of these two miRNAs, participate in biological pathways related to hypoxia, apoptosis, and RNA metabolism. The gene expression of EPC1 was found downregulated at 3 and 12 h of PMI, whereas it remained unchanged at 6 h and 24 h of PMI. Using a multivariate analysis, it was possible to predict the FC of miR-381-3p of all but 6 h-PMI analyzed PMIs.