Permeabilized cell and skinned fiber techniques in studies of mitochondrial function in vivo

Mol Cell Biochem. 1998 Jul;184(1-2):81-100.


In this chapter we describe in details the permeabilized cell and skinned fiber techniques and their applications for studies of mitochondrial function in vivo. The experience of more than 10 years of research in four countries is summarized. The use of saponin in very low concentration (50-100 microg/ml) for permeabilisation of the sarcolemma leaves all intracellular structures, including mitochondria, completely intact. The intactness of mitochondrial function in these skinned muscle fibers is demonstrated in this work by multiple methods, such as NADH and flavoprotein fluorescence studies, fluorescence imaging, confocal immunofluorescence microscopy and respiratory analysis. Permeabilized cell and skinned fiber techniques have several very significant advantages for studies of mitochondrial function, in comparison with the traditional methods of use of isolated mitochondria: (1) very small tissue samples are required; (2) all cellular population of mitochondria can be investigated; (3) most important, however, is that mitochondria are studied in their natural surrounding. The results of research by using this method show the existence of several new phenomenon--tissue dependence of the mechanism of regulation of mitochondrial respiration, and activation of respiration by selective proteolysis. These phenomena are explained by interaction of mitochondria with other cellular structures in vivo. The details of experimental studies with use of these techniques and problems of kinetic analysis of the results are discussed. Examples of large-scale clinical application of these methods are given.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Diphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Membrane Permeability*
  • Cell Respiration
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Creatine Kinase / metabolism
  • Cytochrome c Group / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / ultrastructure*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Myocardium / cytology
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • NADP / metabolism
  • Rotenone / pharmacology
  • Saponins / pharmacology
  • Trypsin / metabolism


  • Cytochrome c Group
  • Saponins
  • Rotenone
  • NADP
  • Adenosine Diphosphate
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Trypsin