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Divergence exists in the subcellular distribution of intramuscular triglyceride in human skeletal muscle dependent on the choice of lipid dye

  • Strauss, Juliette A.1
  • Shepherd, Daisy A.2, 3
  • Macey, Myfanwy1
  • Jevons, Emily F. P.1
  • Shepherd, Sam O.1
  • 1 Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Science, Liverpool John Moores University,
  • 2 Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Victoria, 3052 Australia
  • 3 The University of Melbourne,
Published Article
Histochemistry and Cell Biology
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Publication Date
Jul 05, 2020
DOI: 10.1007/s00418-020-01898-2
PMID: 32627050
PMCID: PMC7532971
PubMed Central


Despite over 50 years of research, a comprehensive understanding of how intramuscular triglyceride (IMTG) is stored in skeletal muscle and its contribution as a fuel during exercise is lacking. Immunohistochemical techniques provide information on IMTG content and lipid droplet (LD) morphology on a fibre type and subcellular-specific basis, and the lipid dye Oil Red O (ORO) is commonly used to achieve this. BODIPY 493/503 (BODIPY) is an alternative lipid dye with lower background staining and narrower emission spectra. Here we provide the first quantitative comparison of BODIPY and ORO for investigating exercise-induced changes in IMTG content and LD morphology on a fibre type and subcellular-specific basis. Estimates of IMTG content were greater when using BODIPY, which was predominantly due to BODIPY detecting a larger number of LDs, compared to ORO. The subcellular distribution of intramuscular lipid was also dependent on the lipid dye used; ORO detects a greater proportion of IMTG in the periphery (5 μm below cell membrane) of the fibre, whereas IMTG content was higher in the central region using BODIPY. In response to 60 min moderate-intensity cycling exercise, IMTG content was reduced in both the peripheral (− 24%) and central region (− 29%) of type I fibres ( P < 0.05) using BODIPY, whereas using ORO, IMTG content was only reduced in the peripheral region of type I fibres (− 31%; P < 0.05). As well as highlighting some methodological considerations herein, our investigation demonstrates that important differences exist between BODIPY and ORO for detecting and quantifying IMTG on a fibre type and subcellular-specific basis.

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