Validation of sodium/glucose cotransporter proteins in human brain as a potential marker for temporal narrowing of the trauma formation


In many forensic cases, the existence of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an essential factor, and the determination of the survival time is nearly as important as the determination of whether or not a trauma exists. Since it is known that glucose uptake increases in injured brain cells in order to perpetuate the neuronal integrity, this study focuses on the pathomechanism of brain glucose supply via sodium/glucose cotransporters 1 and 2 (SGLT1, SGLT2) following traumatization. Human cerebrum tissue of male and female individuals who died following TBI was taken from the contusional and contralateral regions, as well as from individuals deceased due to cardiac arrest (control group). Total SGLT1 and SGLT2 protein expression was analyzed by immunoblotting comparing injured and non-injured tissue. The immunoreactivity in contusional cerebral cortex region began to increase 3 to 7 h following traumatization. We found that both SGLT1 and SGLT2 protein expression increased significantly 37 h post-injury compared to the control group. SGLT1 rose significantly at 52 h post-injury and peaked significantly at 72 h, while SGLT2 rose significantly at 52 and 72 h after injury. By compiling these data, we predict a standard operator via SGLT expression as a comparative expression assertion to determine post-injury survival time for unknown cases. Our result suggests that SGLT1 and SGLT2 protein expression may be useful in forensic practice as an effective target to analyze the existence of a TBI and to determine the time of the traumatization.

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We thank Malgorzata Burek, Elizabeth Wilken, and Anja Neuhoff for their excellent technical assistance and all other members of the Laboratory at the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care for their comments and support.


The authors received no specific funding for this work.

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Correspondence to Sabrina Oerter.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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The ethical committee of Julius-Maximilians-University Wuerzburg reviewed and approved all aspects of this study (ethical approval number 203/15).

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Oerter, S., Förster, C. & Bohnert, M. Validation of sodium/glucose cotransporter proteins in human brain as a potential marker for temporal narrowing of the trauma formation. Int J Legal Med 133, 1107–1114 (2019).

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  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Sodium-glucose transporters
  • SGLT
  • Biomarker
  • Human
  • Post-mortem