Ultrastructural changes of mitochondria in the cultivated skin fibroblasts of patients with point mutations in mitochondrial DNA.

Research paper by Olga O Brantová, Markéta M Tesarová, Hana H Hansíková, Milan M Elleder, Jirí J Zeman, Jana J Sládková

Indexed on: 15 Sep '06Published on: 15 Sep '06Published in: Ultrastructural pathology


Mitochondrial disorders represent a heterogeneous group of multisystem diseases with extreme variability in clinical phenotype. The diagnosis of mitochondrial disorders relies heavily on extensive biochemical and molecular analyses combined with morphological studies including electron microscopy. Although muscle is the tissue of choice for electron microscopic studies, the authors investigated cultivated human skin fibroblasts (HSF) harboring 3 different pathologic mtDNA mutations: 3243A > G, 8344A > G, 8993T > G. They addressed to the possibility of whether mtDNA mutations influence mitochondrial morphology in HSF and if ultrastructural changes of mitochondria may be used for differential diagnostics of mitochondrial disorders caused by mtDNA mutations. Ultrastructural analysis of patients' HSF revealed a heterogeneous mixture of mainly abnormal, partially swelling mitochondria with unusual and sparse cristae. The most characteristic cristal abnormalities were heterogeneity in size and shapes or their absence. Typical filamentous and branched mitochondria with numerous cristae as appeared in control HSF were almost not observed. In all lines of cultured HSF with various mtDNA mutations, similar ultrastructural abnormalities and severely changed mitochondrial interior were found, although no alterations in function and amount of OXPHOS were detected by routinely used biochemical methods in two lines of cultured HSF. This highlights the importance of morphological analysis, even in cultured fibroblasts, in diagnostics of mitochondrial disorders.