Scientists Publish Video Description of Noninvasive Method of Measuring Mitochondrial Function

Özge Özkaya, PhD avatar

by Özge Özkaya, PhD |

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Scientists described a method of measuring the function of mitochondria in human skeletal muscles without having to take a muscle biopsy. This could allow researchers to develop targeted therapies to increase the energy production capacity of the mitochondria and help them design and test new approaches to treat mitochondrial disease.

The details of the method were published in the peer-reviewed scientific video journal JoVE in a report titled “Phosphorus-31 Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy: A Tool for Measuring In Vivo Mitochondrial Oxidative Phosphorylation Capacity in Human Skeletal Muscle.

“Reliable methods to adequately define in vivo skeletal muscle function in a feasible, cost-effective, and reproducible manner are critical to improving outcomes for individuals with a range of diseases that affect mitochondrial function,” the lead author of the report, Dr. Subha Raman of the Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute at The Ohio State University, said in a press release.

“By publishing in JoVE Video Journal, our research team presents a protocol that any researcher can reliably replicate and use to test new ideas to improve mitochondrial function in patients.”

The method was already known and offers the possibility to measure mitochondrial function in human skeletal muscles. However, it has not been widely used in the clinic due to variations in the technique and limited guidance from the literature.

The technique described in the video is called phosphorus-31 magnetic resonance spectroscopy (31PMRS) and measures the oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) capacity of the mitochondria. OXPHOS is the metabolic pathway where nutrients are oxidized inside cells using special enzymes to produce energy.

Currently available techniques consist of extracting mitochondria from muscle cells obtained from biopsies. However, this could alter the function of the mitochondria and may not be as reliable as measuring function directly in vivo. 31PMRS offers a noninvasive method to measure mitochondrial function directly on living human skeletal muscles and is more reliable.

Importantly, the technique requires only modest additions to existing MRI scanners that are available at most institutions.

JoVE is the world’s first and only peer-reviewed scientific video journal which publishes video demonstrations of scientific experiments. This way, other researchers can learn and replicate complex experimental techniques.