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Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2009 Oct;41(10):1977-88. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2009.03.012. Epub 2009 Apr 2.

Use of NADH fluorescence to determine mitochondrial function in vivo.

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The Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life-Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan 52900, Israel.


Normal mitochondrial function is a critical factor in maintaining cellular homeostasis in various organs of the body. Due to the involvement of mitochondrial dysfunction in many pathological states, the real-time in vivo monitoring of the mitochondrial metabolic state is crucially important. This type of monitoring in animal models as well as in patients provides real-time data that can help interpret experimental results or optimize patient treatment. In this paper we are summarizing the following items: (1) presenting the solid scientific ground underlying nicotine amide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) NADH fluorescence measurements based on published materials. (2) Presenting NADH fluorescence monitoring and its physiological significance. (3) Providing the reader with basic information on the methodologies of the fluorometers reflectometers. (4) Clarifying various factors affecting the monitored signals, including artifacts. (5) Presenting the potential use of monitoring mitochondrial function in vivo for the evaluation of drug development. The large numbers of publications by different groups testify to the valuable information gathered in various experimental conditions. The monitoring of NADH levels in the tissue provides the most important information on the metabolic state of the mitochondria in terms of energy production and intracellular oxygen levels. Although NADH signals are not calibrated in absolute units, their trend monitoring is important for the interpretation of physiological or pathological situations. To better understand the tissue function, the multiparametric approach has been developed where NADH serves as the key parameter to be monitored.

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