Indexed on: 11 Jul '14Published on: 11 Jul '14Published in: PloS one
A biological microelectromechanical system (BioMEMS) device was designed to study complementary mitochondrial parameters important in mitochondrial dysfunction studies. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked to many diseases, including diabetes, obesity, heart failure and aging, as these organelles play a critical role in energy generation, cell signaling and apoptosis. The synthesis of ATP is driven by the electrical potential across the inner mitochondrial membrane and by the pH difference due to proton flux across it. We have developed a tool to study the ionic activity of the mitochondria in parallel with dielectric measurements (impedance spectroscopy) to gain a better understanding of the properties of the mitochondrial membrane. This BioMEMS chip includes: 1) electrodes for impedance studies of mitochondria designed as two- and four-probe structures for optimized operation over a wide frequency range and 2) ion-sensitive field effect transistors for proton studies of the electron transport chain and for possible monitoring other ions such as sodium, potassium and calcium. We have used uncouplers to depolarize the mitochondrial membrane and disrupt the ionic balance. Dielectric spectroscopy responded with a corresponding increase in impedance values pointing at changes in mitochondrial membrane potential. An electrical model was used to describe mitochondrial sample's complex impedance frequency dependencies and the contribution of the membrane to overall impedance changes. The results prove that dielectric spectroscopy can be used as a tool for membrane potential studies. It can be concluded that studies of the electrochemical parameters associated with mitochondrial bioenergetics may render significant information on various abnormalities attributable to these organelles.