A study of p53 expression in thermal burns of human skin for determination of wound age

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Journal Article
Medicine, Science and the Law, 2004, 44 (3), pp. 222 - 226
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Early expression of p53 protein in thermal burns of guinea pig skin has been reported. This study sought to determine if expression occurred in thermal burns of human skin and if immunohistochemical demonstration of p53 protein could be utilised to distinguish ante-mortem from post-mortem injuries as well as indicating the age of a lesion in the living subject. Biopsy samples were obtained from live patients and post-mortem examinations. Immunohistochemistry was used to demonstrate the presence of p53 protein. Staining was assessed by field counting of epithelial cell nuclei. In live subjects there was a tendency for early (six hour to five day) expression, with peak levels occurring around one to two days. Late samples (13 to 23 days) demonstrated minimal or no expression. In contrast, burn wounds from post-mortem examination demonstrated greater staining for p53 protein in the late (28 to 77 day) samples than in the early ones. It appears that expression of p53 protein may assist in the ageing of ante-mortem, but not post-mortem, burn wounds. This implies that results obtained from live subjects may not be applicable to post-mortem material and that any putative method for determining the age of a wound should be tested in both situations.
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