Measurement of the energy-generating capacity of human muscle mitochondria: Diagnostic procedure and application to human pathology

Antoon J.M. Janssen, Frans J.M. Trijbels, Rob C.A. Sengers, Liesbeth T.M. Wintjes, Wim Ruitenbeek, Jan A.M. Smeitink, Eva Morava, Baziel G.M. Van Engelen, Lambert P. Van Den Heuvel, Richard J.T. Rodenburg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Background: Diagnosis of mitochondrial disorders usually requires a muscle biopsy to examine mitochondrial function. We describe our diagnostic procedure and results for 29 patients with mitochondrial disorders. Methods: Muscle biopsies were from 43 healthy individuals and 29 patients with defects in one of the oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) complexes, the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDHc), or the adenine nucleotide translocator (ANT). Homogenized muscle samples were used to determine the oxidation rates of radiolabeled pyruvate, malate, and succinate in the absence or presence of various acetyl Co-A donors and acceptors, as well as specific inhibitors of tricarboxylic acid cycle or OXPHOS enzymes. We determined the rate of ATP production from oxidation of pyruvate. Results: Each defect in the energy-generating system produced a specific combination of substrate oxidation impairments. PDHc deficiencies decreased substrate oxidation reactions containing pyruvate. Defects in complexes I, III, and IV decreased oxidation of pyruvate plus malate, with normal to mildly diminished oxidation of pyruvate plus camitine. In complex V defects, pyruvate oxidation improved by addition of carbonyl cyanide 3-chlorophenyl hydrazone, whereas other oxidation rates were decreased. In most patients, ATP production was decreased. Conclusion: The proposed method can be successfully applied to the diagnosis of defects in PDHc, OXPHOS complexes, and ANT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)860-871
Number of pages12
JournalClinical chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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