This study aimed to investigate the usefulness of the thyroid-related hormones as markers of acute systemic hypoxia/ischemia to identify deaths caused by asphyxiation due to neck compression in human autopsy cases. The following deaths from pathophysiological conditions were examined: mechanical asphyxia and acute/subacute blunt head injury; acute/subacute non-head blunt injury; sharp instrument injury as the hemorrhagic shock condition; drowning as alveolar injury; burn; and death due to cardiac dysfunction. Blood samples were collected from the left and right cardiac chambers and iliac veins, and serum triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), thyroglobulin (Tg), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels were measured using electrochemiluminescence immunoassays. Two types of thyroid cell lines were used to confirm independent thyroid function under the condition of hypoxia (3% O). The human thyroid carcinoma cell line (HOTHC) cell line derived from human anaplastic thyroid carcinoma and the UD-PTC (sample of the second resection papillary thyroid carcinoma) cell line derived from human thyroid papillary adenoma, which forms Tg retention follicles, were used to examine the secretion levels of T3, T4, and Tg hormones. The results showed a strong correlation between T3 and T4 levels in all blood sampling sites, while the TSH and Tg levels were not correlated with the other markers. Serum T3 and T4 levels were higher in cases of mechanical asphyxia and acute/subacute blunt head injury, representing hypoxic and ischemic conditions of the brain as compared to those in other causes of death. In the thyroid gland cell line, T4, T3, and Tg levels were stimulated after exposure to hypoxia for 10-30 min. These findings suggest that systemic advanced hypoxia/ischemia may cause a rapid and TSH-independent release of T3 and T4 thyroid hormones in autopsy cases. These findings demonstrate that increased thyroid-related hormone (T3 and T4) levels in the pathophysiological field may indicate systemic hypoxia/ischemia.
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