Imaging and analysis of neuronal mitochondria in murine acute brain slices


  • B. Malla
  • A. Hauser
  • R. Niesner
  • C. Infante-Duarte


  • Journal of Neuroscience Methods


  • J Neurosci Methods 372: 109558


  • BACKGROUND: Mitochondrial alterations are common to many inflammatory, degenerative as well as metabolic diseases. However, due to the vulnerability of mitochondria in explanted tissue, there is a general lack of ex vivo models, especially of CNS tissue, that preserve mitochondria and allow investigation of mitochondrial dynamics. NEW METHODS: Here, we present a model of acute hippocampal slices to study neuronal mitochondria ex vivo. We used two-photon microscopy to image CFP fluorescent neuronal mitochondria in B6.Cg-Tg(Thy1-CFP/COX8A)S2Lich mice brain slices. To define the optimal processing and culturing conditions, we compared mitochondrial morphology and motility with three different sets of slicing and incubation solutions. The investigation of mitochondrial dynamics was performed on deconvoluted images. For morphological investigation, images were segmented into three different categories according to the shape of mitochondria, while motility was investigated using semi-automated tracking. RESULTS: The imaging of acute brain slices by two-photon microscopy represented a suitable tool to monitor neuronal mitochondria ex vivo. We observed that mitochondrial dynamics were better preserved in slices incubated with HEPES aCSF, maintaining elongated rod-shaped morphology and the motility. COMPARISON WITH EXISTING METHODS: We showed for the first time a method that allows live imaging of mitochondria and its quantification, while the existing in vitro protocol are not suitable to investigate mitochondria in live tissue. CONCLUSION: We have established the best incubation conditions and microscopy tools to investigate living mitochondria in acute slices. We showed that preventing initial swelling with HEPES and addition of glucose, pyruvate, ascorbate and thiourea preserved mitochondria in adult brain slices, which could be monitored by two-photon microscopy.