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V.S.R. Vajrala, E. Suraniti, M. Rigoulet, A. Devin, N. Sojic, S. Arbault

Integrative Biology, 2016, 8, 836-843.

Microwell arrays have been developed to monitor simultaneously, and on a large scale, multiple metabolic responses of single mitochondria. Wells of 50 to 1000 μm-diameter were prepared based on easy structuration of thin polydimethylsiloxane layers (PDMS; 100 μm thickness). Their surface treatment with oxygen plasma allowed the immobilization in situ and observation with time of populations of single isolated mitochondria. Their metabolic activities could be monitored individually by fluorescence microscopy under several activation/inhibition conditions. We measured the concomitant variations of two main metabolic parameters - the endogenous NADH level and the internal membrane potential difference Δψ owing to a cationic fluorescent probe (TMRM) - at energized, uncoupled and inhibited stages of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. Microwell arrays allowed analyses on large populations, and consequently statistical studies with a single organelle resolution. Thus, we observed rapid individual polarizations and depolarizations of mitochondria following their supply with the energetic substrate, while an averaged global polarization (increase of TMRM fluorescence within mitochondria) and NADH increase were detected for the whole population. In addition, statistical correlation studies show that the NADH content of all mitochondria tends toward a metabolic limit and that their polarization-depolarization ability is ubiquitous. These results demonstrate that PDMS microwell platforms provide an innovative approach to better characterize the individual metabolic status of isolated mitochondria, possibly as a function of their cell or organ origin or in different physio-pathological situations.