Investigation of drug-induced mitochondrial toxicity using fluorescence-based oxygen-sensitive probes

Toxicol Sci. 2006 Jul;92(1):186-200. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfj208. Epub 2006 Apr 25.


Mitochondrial dysfunction is a common mechanism of drug-induced toxicity. Early identification of new chemical entities (NCEs) that perturb mitochondrial function is of significant importance to avoid attrition in later stages of drug development. One of the most informative ways of assessing mitochondrial dysfunction is by measuring mitochondrial oxygen consumption. However, the conventional polarographic method of measuring oxygen consumption is not amenable to high sample throughput or automation. We present an alternative, low-bulk, high-throughput approach to the analysis of isolated-mitochondrial oxygen consumption using luminescent oxygen-sensitive probes. These probes are dispensable and are analyzed in standard microtitre plates on a fluorescence plate reader. Respiratory substrate and adenosine diphosphate (ADP) dependencies of mitochondrial oxygen consumption were assessed using the fluorescence-based method, and results compared favourably to conventional polarographic analysis. To assess assay performance, the method was then applied to the analysis of a panel of classical modulators of oxidative phosphorylation. The effect of uncoupler concentration was analyzed in detail to identify factors which would be important in applying this method to large scale NCE screening and mechanistic investigations. Results demonstrate that the 96-well format can accommodate up to approximately 200 compounds/day at a single concentration or alternatively IC(50) values can be generated for approximately 25 compounds. Throughput may be increased by moving to a 384-well plate format.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fluorescence
  • Male
  • Mitochondria, Liver / drug effects*
  • Molecular Probes*
  • Oxygen / chemistry*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Polarography
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Toxicity Tests*


  • Molecular Probes
  • Oxygen