In view of the unsatisfactory appearance, under the electron microscope, of liver mitochondria isolated in isotonic sucrose medium, alternative media have been examined. It was found to be advantageous to replace sucrose by raffinose, and to add levan or, preferably, dextran, together with heparin in suitable concentration. With the optimal medium, the constituents of which are raffinose, versene (optional), dextran of high molecular weight, heparin, and AMP (optional), most of the mitochondria in the osmium-fixed pellet are apparently intact, and show the membranes characteristic of mitochondria as seen in cell sections.
The optimal medium has no adverse effect on the activity of the several tissue enzymes which have been studied, except that Mg++-activated ATPase is partially inhibited if the medium is present in high concentration in the assay system. Mitochondrial fractions isolated in the new medium have, in common with sucrose fractions, appreciable "free" ATPase activity, this activity being evidently a poor criterion of mitochondrial integrity. Use of the new medium does not decrease the proportion of cytoplasmic ATPase which fails to sediment with the mitochondria, but does give a mitochondrial fraction low in RNA and in acid phosphatase activity and little contaminated with microsomal material. Particles tentatively identified as "lysosomes" have been seen in certain sections.