The morphology of rabbit heart muscle mitochondria isolated in several media has been compared by electron microscopy. The internal structure of isolated mitochondria differs from that of in situ mitochondria, with the type and degree of alteration depending on the isolation medium. Examination of the isolated mitochondria after incubation revealed that additional morphological changes occurred during incubation, but these changes were less pronounced when the incubation was conducted in a complete medium containing substrate. The isolated mitochondria have been shown to be capable of catalyzing a slow aerobic oxidation of extramitochondrial reduced diphosphopyridine nucleotide. The rate of DPNH oxidation observed is sufficient to account for the ability of the mitochondria to oxidize lactate in the presence of catalytic amounts of DPNH. The suspensions used were essentially free of mitochondrial fragments, which are known to oxidize DPNH. Possible relationships of these findings to metabolism in situ are discussed. The results indicate the desirability of correlating biochemical activities with the morphology of isolated mitochondria.

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