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Biotechniques. 2011 Feb;50(2):98-115. doi: 10.2144/000113610.

Mitochondrial membrane potential probes and the proton gradient: a practical usage guide.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY 14627, USA.


Fluorescent probes for monitoring mitochondrial membrane potential are frequently used for assessing mitochondrial function, particularly in the context of cell fate determination in biological and biomedical research. However, valid interpretation of results obtained with such probes requires careful consideration of numerous controls, as well as possible effects of non-protonic charges on dye behavior. In this context, we provide an overview of some of the important technical considerations, controls, and parallel complementary assays that can be employed to help ensure appropriate interpretation of results, thus providing a practical usage guide for monitoring mitochondrial membrane potentials with cationic probes. In total, this review will help illustrate both the strengths and potential pitfalls of common mitochondrial membrane potential dyes, and highlight best-usage approaches for their efficacious application in life sciences research.

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