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

  • M. Giagnacovo Università di Pavia, Italy.
  • R. Cardani Università di Milano, Italy.
  • G. Meola Università di Milano, Italy.
  • C. Pellicciari Università di Pavia, Italy.
  • M. Malatesta | manuela.malatesta@univr.it Dip. di Scienze Neurologiche, Neuropsicologiche, Morfologiche e Motorie, Università di Verona, Italy.

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.

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Published
2010-07-08
Section
Technical Notes
Keywords:
frozen biopsy, electron microscopy, fixation, immunocytochemistry, skeletal muscle
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How to Cite
Giagnacovo, M., Cardani, R., Meola, G., Pellicciari, C., & Malatesta, M. (2010). Routinely frozen biopsies of human skeletal muscle are suitable for morphological and immunocytochemical analyses at transmission electron microscopy. European Journal of Histochemistry, 54(3), e31. https://doi.org/10.4081/ejh.2010.e31