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Methods. 2008 Dec;46(4):274-80. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2008.09.027. Epub 2008 Oct 16.

Light microscopic methods to visualize mitochondria on tissue sections.

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Department of Pathology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Mitochondria are cytoplasmic, double-membrane organelles, a main role of which is to synthesize ATP, the universal energy 'supply' of cells. In the last three decades, molecular genetic, biochemical, immunological and cell biological techniques have been applied in a coordinated fashion to unveil the pathogenesis of known mitochondrial disorders, as well as to explore the role of mitochondria in aging and neurodegenerative diseases. Once to be thought to be rare, it is now clear that mitochondrial dysfunction is an important cause of neurological and cardiac diseases, and age-related disorders such as cancer. Here, we review, illustrate, and provide updated protocols of two histochemical, and three immunohistochemical methods that in our opinion are the most reliable tools to visualize mitochondria on tissue sections from normal and disease specimens.

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