Some Life Continues In The Body Two Days After Death, Study Reveals

First Posted: Jan 28, 2017 03:00 AM EST

Scientists discovered there is still some life that continues in the body two days after death. The study involved animal models, in which it is found that many genes inside their bodies are still working for up to 48 hours after they died.

The study was published in Newser with the title, 2 Days After Death, Some Life Continues In The Body. It was led by Peter Noble and Alex Pozhitkov at the University of Washington, Seattle, and other colleagues. Noble said that "not all cells are "dead" when an organism dies."

The researchers examined the activity of genes in the organs of mice and zebrafish after their death. They found that about 548 zebrafish and 515 mouse genes had an increased levels of messenger RNA, which are the genes used to communicate with cells, up to 48 hours after death. The team dubbed this as the "twilight of death," according to Fox News.

It is expected that the overall mRNA levels lessened over time. On the other hand, in the study, the mRNA of the involved deceased zebrafish and mice peaks after their death. This means that there was enough energy and cellular function for some genes to be switched on and stay active after the animals died. Noble explained that these genes cycled through peaks and dips in activity in a "non-winding down" manner, unlike the chaotic behavior of the rest of the decaying DNA.

There are hundreds of genes that function after death including the fetal development genes that usually turn off after birth and the genes that have been linked previously with cancer. They summited for about 24 hours after death, according to New Scientist.

This process might also occur in humans. In the past studies, they indicate that some various genes that include those in contracting heart muscle and wound healing were active more than 12 hours after death in humans who died from heart attack, multiple trauma or suffocation.

Meanwhile, when asked if genes could be active up to 48 hours after death, is the person still alive at that point? Noble replied that clearly, studying death will provide new information on the biology of life.

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