Routinely frozen biopsies of human skeletal muscle are suitable for morphological and immunocytochemical analyses at transmission electron microscopy

M. Giagnacovo, R. Cardani, G. Meola, C. Pellicciari, M. Malatesta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The aim of the present investigation was to evaluate whether routinely frozen biopsies of human skeletal muscle may be suitable for morphological and immunocytochemical analyses at transmission electron microscopy. The fixation/embedding protocols we successfully used for decades to process fresh mammalian tissues have been applied to frozen muscle biopsies stored for one to four years in liquid nitrogen. After 2.5% glutaraldehyde - 2% paraformaldehyde - 1% OsO4 fixation and embedding in epoxy resin, the ultrastructural morphology of myofibres and satellite cells as well as of their organelles and inclusions proved to be well preserved. As expected, after 4% paraformaldehyde - 0.5% glutaraldehyde fixation and embedding in LR White resin, the morphology of membrane-bounded organelles was relatively poor, although myofibrillar and sarcomeric organization was still recognizable. On the contrary, the myonuclei were excellently preserved and, after conventional staining with uranyl acetate, showed an EDTA-like effect, i.e. the bleaching of condensed chromatin, which allows the visualization of RNP-containing structures. These samples proved to be suitable for immunocytochemical analyses of both cytoskeletal and nuclear components, whereas the poor mitochondrial preservation makes unreliable any in situ investigation on these organelles. Keeping in mind the limitations found, these results open promising perspectives in the study of frozen skeletal muscle samples stored in the tissue banks; this would be especially interesting for rare muscle diseases, where the limited number of biopsies suitable for ultrastructural investigation has so far represented a great restriction in elucidating the cellular mechanisms responsible for the pathological phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-142
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean journal of histochemistry : EJH
Volume54
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Keywords

  • Electron microscopy
  • Fixation
  • Frozen biopsy
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Skeletal muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Histology
  • Biophysics

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