Histoenzymatic methods for visualization of the activity of individual mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes in the muscle biopsies from patients with mitochondrial defects

Methods Mol Biol. 2015;1241:85-93. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1875-1_8.


Investigation of mitochondrial metabolism perturbations and successful diagnosis of patients with mitochondrial abnormalities often requires assessment of human samples like muscle biopsy. Immunohistochemical and histochemical examination of muscle biopsy is an important technique to investigate mitochondrial dysfunction that combined with spectrophotometric and Blue Native electrophoresis techniques can be an important tool to provide diagnosis of mitochondrial disorders. In this chapter we focus on technical description of the methods that are suitable to detect the activity of complex I, II, and IV of mitochondrial respiratory chain in muscle biopsies. The protocols provided can be useful not only for general assessment of mitochondrial activity in studied material, but they are also successfully used in the diagnostic procedures in case of suspicion of mitochondrial disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Electron Transport Chain Complex Proteins / metabolism*
  • Enzyme Assays / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / enzymology*
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / pathology*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / enzymology*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / pathology*


  • Electron Transport Chain Complex Proteins