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Defining Mitochondrial Cristae Morphology Changes Induced by Aging in Brown Adipose Tissue


Crabtree A , Neikirk K , Marshall GA , Vang L , Whiteside JA , Williams Q , Altamura TC , Owens CT , Stephens D , Shao B , Koh A , Killion M , Lopez GE , Lam J , Rodriguez B , Mungai M , Stanley J , Dean ED , Koh J , Gaddy AJ , Scudese E , Sweetwyne TM , Davis J , Zaganjor E , Murray AS , Katti P , Damo MS , Vue Z , Hinton Jr A . Advanced Biology. 2023 8 21; ().


Mitochondria are required for energy production and even give brown adipose tissue (BAT) its characteristic color due to their high iron content and abundance. The physiological function and bioenergetic capacity of mitochondria are connected to the structure, folding, and organization of its inner-membrane cristae. During the aging process, mitochondrial dysfunction is observed, and the regulatory balance of mitochondrial dynamics is often disrupted, leading to increased mitochondrial fragmentation in aging cells. Therefore, it is hypothesized that significant morphological changes in BAT mitochondria and cristae will be present with aging. A quantitative 3D electron microscopy approach is developed to map cristae network organization in mouse BAT to test this hypothesis. Using this methodology, the 3D morphology of mitochondrial cristae is investigated in adult (3-month) and aged (2-year) murine BAT tissue via serial block face-scanning electron microscopy (SBF-SEM) and 3D reconstruction software for manual segmentation, analysis, and quantification. Upon investigation, an increase is found in mitochondrial volume, surface area, and complexity and decreased sphericity in aged BAT, alongside significant decreases in cristae volume, area, perimeter, and score. Overall, these data define the nature of the mitochondrial structure in murine BAT across aging.