Quality Assurance in Mitochondrial Respirometry


Respirometry of Permeabilized Muscle Fibres: Towards Quality Assurance in the Diagnosis of Mitochondrial Function

2nd MiPNet Workshop, 9-10 Dec 2009 Innsbruck, Austria

Towards Quality Assurance


QA Workshop 2009 Programme

Notes and Summary 


List of Participants

From the Correspondence

Towards Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance (QA) is too big a term [1] for a small workshop on diagnosis of mitochondrial (mt) respiratory function, even when the focus is restricted to the model of permeabilized muscle fibres.  There are several milestones in the quest towards QA, including continuous quality control and incorporating ‘Best Practice’ in the laboratory.  We are well aware of the fact that in practice we may aim at better standards, but will hardly ever establish any final best [2].  QA in general may set impractically high demands on a laboratory, hence the required level of QA depends on the specific application.  QA will be different in (i) an experimental study on mt-respiratory function of mouse skeletal muscle, (ii) a comparison of aged humans versus young controls using biopsies, or (iii) the diagnosis of a mt-myopathy in a single patient when an individual is evaluated (she/he really cares) versus a (matched – science has to care) control group.


        Against this background, we can reach several unambiguous conclusions:

1.   Some level of QA is required in all studies on mt-respiratory function – from basic science to clinical applications.

2.   Sharing the practical expertise of different research groups in this rapidly expanding field provides an effective and economical approach towards higher standards of science by implementing QA.

3.   Multiple benefits will result from the development and application of appropriate standards of QA - for the individual patient (very few laboratories are involved), the individual scientist (all of us, all of our collaborators), the laboratory, mt-respiratory physiology in terms of scientific reputation (including some companies with positive or negative impacts), the particular segment of our health care system.

The benefits and implications are potentially enormous, considering the impact of mitochondrial medicine on the quality of life: life style related to exercise and nutrition, obesity, degenerative diseases, metabolic syndrome, muscular and cognitive dysfunction, rare mt-diseases, healthy aging, cardiovascular diseases, reducing the risks for a range of cancers, immunological fitness, competitive and noncompetitive sports, hypoxia, ischemia-reperfusion, ...


        It is far more exciting to discuss these challenging topics than to talk about quality control of the chemicals used as inhibitors or in mitochondrial respiration media, tissue wet weight or dry weight measurements, or about valid estimates of the proton leak in a respirometric protocol.  A focus on QA, however, helps to eliminate unreliable data which are a source of confusion, lead to unnecessary controversies, or even overshadow the potential of accurate diagnosis of a disease.  Explicit implementation of QA will provide a basis of increased recognition and reputation of our field of research, and may be considered as an expression of corporate social responsibility within the mitochondrial physiology network. This MiPNet QA-Workshop includes but is not restricted to instrumental performance, and presentations are invited to cover not only applications of the OROBOROS Oxygraph-2k but also extend the discussion to other instruments (e.g. see FAQ).

Track record

1st /2nd draft: E Gnaiger (2009-10-29/2009-11-05); Printed: 2009-12-04

2nd MiPNet Workshop 2009, Dec 9-10; Summary: 2009-12-10


Disclosures: E Gnaiger is the founder and Managing Director of OROBOROS INSTRUMENTS Corp.



high-resolution respirometry

Schöpfstrasse 18

A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria 

T +43 512 566796 / F +43 512 566796 20

Email: erich.gnaiger@oroboros.at



Erich Gnaiger, A.Univ.-Prof., Ph.D.

Medical University of Innsbruck

Dept. General and Transplant Surgery

D. Swarovski Research Laboratory, Innrain 66/6

A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria 

Email: erich.gnaiger@i-med.ac.at  

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