Korean J Leg Med.  2017 Nov;41(4):87-93. 10.7580/kjlm.2017.41.4.87.

Bacteria as Normal Flora in Postmortem Body Fluid Samples

  • 1Biomedical Research Institute, Chonnam National University Hospital, Gwangju, Korea.
  • 2Forensic Medicine Division, National Forensic Service Gwangju Institute, Jangseong, Korea.
  • 3Department of Laboratory Medicine, Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital, Hwasun, Korea.
  • 4Department of Forensic Medicine, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwangju, Korea. jtpark@jnu.ac.kr


Bacterial culture and identification are both useful in the clinical and forensic fields, although the postmortem changes in human microbiology are poorly understood. This study aimed to identify bacteria that were considered normal flora in postmortem body fluid samples. Bacterial culture and identification testing were performed for 336 body fluid samples (e.g., cardiac blood, peripheral blood, pericardial fluid, pleural fluid, peritoneal fluid, cerebrospinal fluid, and urine) from 129 forensic autopsy cases. Bacteria were identified using both genetic and biochemical methods, and testing for C-reactive protein (CRP) was used to identify the presence of antemortem inflammation. Among the 129 autopsy cases, 79 cases (69.3%) were negative for CRP, and bacterial culture and identification testing were performed for 185 samples from those 79 cases. Bacteria that were considered both normal flora and pathogens were identified in the CRP-negative cases. Therefore, the results from postmortem bacterial culture and identification testing should be interpreted in the context of other postmortem examination, including CRP testing. Furthermore, case selection, postmortem testing, and interpretations of the results should be performed by both clinical bacteriologists and forensic pathologists. To best of our knowledge, this is the first study to examine normal flora in various postmortem body fluid samples form Korean autopsy cases.


Bacteria; Body fluids; Postmortem changes; Autopsy

MeSH Terms

Ascitic Fluid
Body Fluids*
C-Reactive Protein
Cerebrospinal Fluid
Pericardial Fluid
Postmortem Changes
C-Reactive Protein


1.Riedel S. The value of postmortem microbiology cultures. J Clin Microbiol. 2014. 52:1028–33.
2.Human Microbiome Project Consortium. A framework for human microbiome research. Nature. 2012. 486:215–21.
3.Alan G., Sarah JP. Microbes as forensic indicators. Trop Biomed. 2012. 29:311–30.
4.Javan GT., Finley SJ., Abidin Z, et al. The thanatomicrobiome: a missing piece of the microbial puzzle of death. Front Microbiol. 2016. 7:225.
5.Blackwell C. Infection, inflammation and SIDS. FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2004. 42:1–2.
6.Lax S., Smith DP., Hampton-Marcell J, et al. Longitudinal analysis of microbial interaction between humans and the indoor environment. Science. 2014. 345:1048–52.
7.Na JY., Park JH., Ham SH, et al. A comparative study of postmortem bacterial culture and identification methods. Korean J Leg Med. 2016. 40:55–60.
8.Saegeman V., Verhaegen J., Lismont D, et al. Influence of postmortem time on the outcome of blood cultures among cadaveric tissue donors. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2009. 28:161–8.
9.Morris JA., Harrison LM., Partridge SM. Postmortem bacteriology: a re-evaluation. J Clin Pathol. 2006. 59:1–9.
10.Kakizaki E., Kozawa S., Matsuda H, et al. In vitro study of possible microbial indicators for drowning: Salinity and types of bacterioplankton proliferating in blood. Forensic Sci Int. 2011. 204:80–7.
Full Text Links
  • KJLM
export Copy
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
Similar articles
Copyright © 2024 by Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors. All rights reserved.     E-mail: koreamed@kamje.or.kr