Mitochondria are the intracellular organelles responsible for producing cellular energy. Decreased mitochondrial function has been associated with ageing, inflammatory conditions, and degenerative illnesses. This assay measures mitochondrial function, and examines whether a test product contains compounds capable of supporting healthy mitochondrial function, as well as protecting mitochondrial function in cells under oxidative stress.
Human primary cell cultures are used for this mitochondria testing, which is typically performed to test the effects of a natural product, either without further treatment or in the presence of oxidative stress. The level of mitochondrial function is measured by staining with a marker that becomes fluorescent as a result of, and in proportion to, mitochondrial function. The resulting fluorescence intensity is proportional to mitochondrial function and is evaluated by flow cytometry. A decrease in fluorescence intensity reflects a reduction of cellular energy, as mitochondria are damaged by oxidative stress. If the presence of test product protects mitochondrial function, then higher fluorescence intensities will be observed.