A method for assessing tissue respiration in anatomically defined brain regions

Sci Rep. 2020 Aug 6;10(1):13179. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-69867-2.


The survival and function of brain cells requires uninterrupted ATP synthesis. Different brain structures subserve distinct neurological functions, and therefore have different energy production/consumption requirements. Typically, mitochondrial function is assessed following their isolation from relatively large amounts of starting tissue, making it difficult to ascertain energy production/failure in small anatomical locations. In order to overcome this limitation, we have developed and optimized a method to measure mitochondrial function in brain tissue biopsy punches excised from anatomically defined brain structures, including white matter tracts. We describe the procedures for maintaining tissue viability prior to performing the biopsy punches, as well as provide guidance for optimizing punch size and the drug doses needed to assess various aspects of mitochondrial respiration. We demonstrate that our method can be used to measure mitochondrial respiration in anatomically defined subfields within the rat hippocampus. Using this method, we present experimental results which show that a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI, often referred to as concussion) causes differential mitochondrial responses within these hippocampal subfields and the corpus callosum, novel findings that would have been difficult to obtain using traditional mitochondrial isolation methods. Our method is easy to implement and will be of interest to researchers working in the field of brain bioenergetics and brain diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Cell Respiration
  • Cytological Techniques / methods*
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Male
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • White Matter / pathology