Research ArticleImaging

Imaging mitochondrial dynamics in human skin reveals depth-dependent hypoxia and malignant potential for diagnosis

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Science Translational Medicine  30 Nov 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 367, pp. 367ra169
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aag2202

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Mitochondria expose tumors’ misbehavior

Mitochondria, the powerhouses inside cells, change their shape and function according to the needs of the cell. Such mitochondrial dynamics go awry in a variety of human diseases, and if these abnormalities are detected early, they can be useful for diagnosis and fast treatment. Now, Pouli et al. show that such signs of mitochondrial dysfunction can be spotted in living human skin with two-photon–excited fluorescence by monitoring the mitochondrial metabolic coenzyme NADH. The authors detected rapid changes in mitochondrial organization in response to oxygen deprivation and successfully distinguished healthy skin from two common skin cancers—basal cell carcinoma and melanoma.