Betz, P. and Nerlich, A. and Wilske, J. and Tübel, J. and Wiest, I. and Penning, R. and Eisenmenger, Wolfgang
Immunohistochemical localization of fibronectin as a tool for the age determination of human skin wounds.
In: International Journal of Legal Medicine, Vol. 105, No. 1: pp. 21-26
We analyzed the distribution of fibronectin in routinely embedded tissue specimens from 53 skin wounds and 6 postmortem wounds. In postmortem wounds a faint but focal positive staining was exclusively found at the margin of the specimens which dit not extend into the adjacent stroma. Vital wounds were classified into 3 groups. The first comprising lesions with wound ages ranging from a few seconds to 30 min, the second comprising those with wound ages upt to 3 weeks, and the third group with lesions more than 3 weeks old. Ten out of 17 lesions with a wound age up to 30 min showed a clear positive reaction within the wound area. Three specimens in this group were completely negative, while in 4 additional cases the result was not significantly different from postmortem lesions. These 7 cases were characterized by acute death with extremely short survival times (only seconds). In wounds up to 3 weeks old fibronectin formed a distinct network containing an increasing number of inflammatory cells corresponding to the wound age. In 2 cases with a survival time of 17 days and in all wounds older than 3 weeks fibronectin was restricted to the surface of fibroblasts and to parallel arranged fibers in the granulation tissue without any network structures. We present evidence that fibronectin is a useful marker for vital wounds with a survival time of more than a few minutes. Fibronectin appears before neutrophilic granulocytes migrate into the wound area. Since a faint positive fibronectin staining is seen in postmortem lesions and bleedings, we propose that only those wounds which show strong positive fibronectin staining also extending into the adjacent stroma should be regarded as vital.