Contribution of the mitochondrial compartment to the optical properties of the rat liver: a theoretical and practical approach

Biophys J. 1994 Dec;67(6):2501-10. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(94)80740-4.


The purpose of this work was to analyze the contribution of the mitochondria to the optical properties, i.e., light absorption and scattering, of the blood-free rat liver. Firstly, a theoretical model of the reduced scattering coefficient of the liver was performed by using the Mie theory, the Rayleigh-Debye-Gans approximation, and the electron microscopy descriptions of the liver ultrastructure. Compared with the hepatocyte volume, the nucleus and the peroxisomes, the mitochondria compartment, accounting for 22% of the liver cell volume, seemed to be the predominant factor for the light scattering of the liver. Second, by using time-resolved spectroscopy and a sample substitution method, we have measured the absorption and reduced scattering coefficients of blood-free perfused rat livers, isolated hepatocyte suspensions, and isolated mitochondria suspensions. A subsequent extrapolation of the isolated mitochondria data to the in vivo mitochondrial content and a comparison with the whole liver measurements lead to the following conclusions: 1) the mitochondria account for about 50% of the liver absorption coefficient at 780 nm (mu a = 0.25 cm-1 extrapolated from isolated mitochondria vs. 0.53 +/- 0.05 cm-1 measured for the liver); and 2) the mitochondrial compartment is the primary factor for the light scattering in the rat liver (mu s' = 15.5 cm-1 extrapolated from the isolated mitochondria versus 15.9 +/- 2.4 cm-1 measured for the liver), demonstrating the relevancy of our preliminary theoretical study.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Light
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Liver / cytology
  • Male
  • Mitochondria, Liver / chemistry*
  • Models, Biological
  • Optics and Photonics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Scattering, Radiation
  • Spectrophotometry, Infrared
  • Subcellular Fractions / chemistry