Analytical Determination of Mitochondrial Function of Excised Solid Tumor Homogenates

Elizabeth R.M. Zunica, Christopher L. Axelrod, L. Anne Gilmore, John P. Kirwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mitochondria are essential to the onset and progression of cancer through energy production, reactive oxygen species regulation, and macromolecule synthesis. Genetic and functional adaptations of mitochondria to the tumor environment drive proliferative and metastatic potential. The advent of DNA and RNA sequencing removed critical barriers to the evaluation of genetic mediators of tumorigenesis. However, to date, methodological approaches to evaluate tumor mitochondrial function remain elusive and require technical proficiency limiting the feasibility, ultimately diminishing diagnostic and prognostic value in both experimental and clinical settings. Here, we outline a simple and rapid method to quantify rates of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and electron transfer (ET) capacity in freshly excised solid tumor homogenates using high-resolution respirometry. The protocol can be reproducibly applied across species and tumor types as well as adapted to evaluate a diversity of mitochondrial ET pathways. Using this protocol, we demonstrate that mice bearing a luminal B mammary cancer exhibit defective nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide-linked respiration and reliance on succinate to generate adenosine triphosphate via OXPHOS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of visualized experiments : JoVE
Issue number174
StatePublished - Aug 6 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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