Fatal hypothermia related vacuolation of hormone-producing cells in the anterior pituitary

T. Ishikawa, S. Miyaishi, T. Tachibana, H. Ishizu, B. L. Zhu, H. Maeda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


We found small cytoplasmic vacuoles in the hormone-producing cells of anterior pituitary in hypothermic death. The vacuoles were found in approximately 40% of anterior pituitary cells both in males and females that had died from cold (n=31) while the detection rate was lower than 1% (P<0.001) in the other causes of death (n=180: fire death, n=25; fatal injury, n=24; asphyxia, n=20; poisoning, n=8; natural diseases, n=103). The detection rate in hypothermic death was the highest in ACTH cells (about 65%), followed by gonadotrophs (about 43%), and the lowest in TSH cells (about 16%) (P<0.001). These findings suggest that the cytoplasmic vacuoles in the anterior pituitary cells may be the most closely related to cold exposure among the above-mentioned cause of death, providing a supplementary evidence for determining the causes of death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-163
Number of pages7
JournalLegal Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004


  • Cytoplasmic vacuole
  • Electron microscopy
  • Human anterior pituitary
  • Hypothermia
  • Immunohistochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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