About us

The Mitochondrial Profiling Centre (MPC) is supported by funding from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the University of Birmingham’s Dynamic Investment Fund (DIF).

The MPC forms part of the  University’s enabling technologies group of facilities within the College of Life and Environmental Sciences. The MPC is currently directed by Dr Yu-Chiang Lai and is located in the School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences under the management of Dr Jonathan Barlow.

The University of Birmingham’s MPC is one of only two organisations within the United Kingdom that offers high resolution respirometry as a service to basic researchers and clinicians. The overall aim of the MPC is to provide support for basic and clinical mitochondrial and cell research to University of Birmingham researchers; national and international collaborators; and industrial partners.

Why are mitochondria important?

Metabolism encompasses life-sustaining chemical reactions that occur within cells and tissues. Mitochondria, in particular, are central hubs for such biochemical transformations. Mitochondria are best known for their role as energy converters through a process termed oxidative phosphorylation.

Importantly, however, mitochondria are also involved in the synthesis of biomolecules, the regulation of calcium homeostasis, mechanisms of cell survival, and signalling by redox reactions. Not surprisingly, these roles are highly integrated, such that any perturbation in the machinery responsible for energy conversion may result in substantial effects on related processes such as cataplerosis or apoptosis. 

Over the last two decades it has therefore become increasingly important to identify and quantify changes in specific components that constitute mitochondrial function for understanding relationships between bioenergetics and changes in a cells phenotype.

State-of-the-art platforms

Thanks to technical developments, measurements of oxidative metabolism as an indicator of mitochondrial function have become more mainstream over recent years. Such developments have yielded state-of-the-art platforms now capable of measuring high resolution respirometry (HRR) in a variety of models and systems. Included in these platforms is the Oroboros O2K-FluoRespirometer and the Aglient Seahorse Extracellular Flux Analyzer, both of which enable measurements of mitochondrial activity in a variety of samples from whole pieces of tissue or fibres to suspended and intact cells or even isolated mitochondria.  

The University of Birmingham’s Mitochondrial Profiling Centre is proud to offer full access to these state-of-the art HRR platforms as a service to support mitochondrial and cell research both nationally and internationally. We offer a full range of services to cover research using basic cell-based models through to clinical samples. Current users of this facility have previously been involved with assessing mitochondrial function in a range of 2D and 3D cell culture models as well as in primary tissues including human skeletal muscle fibres, adipose tissue, embryonic fibroblasts, and drosophila under a range of clinical scenarios such as diabetes, obesity, liver disease, atherosclerosis, sarcopenia, sepsis, trauma and necrosis.