The activity of acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and the density of muscarinic cholinergic binding receptors (mCBR) were measured in brains from normal Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica) and from quail after lethal intoxication with diazinon. These were measured in brains from whole heads held at 25 C for 0 to 8 days after death. The maximum relative loss of activity due to post mortem decomposition alone during 8 days was 13% and 10% for AChE and mCBR, respectively. During post mortem decomposition, the ratio of AChE: mCBR activities remained constant at approximately 1.3:1 in normal brains while it was always ≤0.5:1 after intoxication with diazinon. Normal AChE activity could be estimated from mCBR density. Parallel measurement of AChE and mCBR may assist in the post mortem diagnosis of death due to acute poisoning with anti-cholinesterase pesticides when control specimens are not available.
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Vol. 27 • No. 1