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Microfluidics-Assisted Selective Depolarization of Axonal Mitochondria.

J Vis Exp. 2022 Aug 4;(186). doi: 10.3791/64196. PMID: 35993756.

Authors/Editors: Wanderoy S, Rühmkorf A, Harbauer AB.
Publication Date: 2022



Mitochondria are the primary suppliers of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in neurons. Mitochondrial dysfunction is a common phenotype in many neurodegenerative diseases. Given some axons' elaborate architecture and extreme length, it is not surprising that mitochondria in axons can experience different environments compared to their cell body counterparts. Interestingly, dysfunction of axonal mitochondria often precedes effects on the cell body. To model axonal mitochondrial dysfunction in vitro, microfluidic devices allow treatment of axonal mitochondria without affecting the somal mitochondria. The fluidic pressure gradient in these chambers prevents diffusion of molecules against the gradient, thus allowing for analysis of mitochondrial properties in response to local pharmacological challenges within axons. The current protocol describes the seeding of dissociated hippocampal neurons in microfluidic devices, staining with a membrane-potential sensitive dye, treatment with a mitochondrial toxin, and the subsequent microscopic analysis. This versatile method to study axonal biology can be applied to many pharmacological perturbations and imaging readouts, and is suitable for several neuronal subtypes.

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