Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes

, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp 297–305 | Cite as

Mitochondrial morphology and function impaired by dimethyl sulfoxide and dimethyl Formamide

  • Long Ma
  • Jia-Xin Dong
  • Wen-Rong Fu
  • Xue-Yi Li
  • Jing Chen
  • Yi Liu


In this work, the effects of two non-ionic, non-hydroxyl organic solvents, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and dimethyl formamide (DMF) on the morphology and function of isolated rat hepatic mitochondria were investigated and compared. Mitochondrial ultrastructures impaired by DMSO and DMF were clearly observed by transmission electron microscopy. Spectroscopic and polarographic results demonstrated that organic solvents induced mitochondrial swelling, enhanced the permeation to H+/K+, collapsed the potential inner mitochondrial membrane (IMM), and increased the IMM fluidity. Moreover, with organic solvents addition, the outer mitochondrial membrane (OMM) was broken, accompanied with the release of Cytochrome c, which could activate cell apoptosis signaling pathway. The role of DMSO and DMF in enhancing permeation or transient water pore formation in the mitochondrial phospholipid bilayer might be the main reason for the mitochondrial morphology and function impaired. Mitochondrial dysfunctions induced by the two organic solvents were dose-dependent, but the extents varied. Ethanol (EtOH) showed the highest potential damage on the mitochondrial morphology and functions, followed by DMF and DMSO.


Mitochondria Organic solvents Ultrastructure Permeabilization Transient water pore 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 21463008, 21303126, 21573168, 21763005); the Foundation of State Key Laboratory for the Chemistry and Molecular Engineering of Medicinal Resources (CMEMR2012-A10) and Guangxi Natural Science Foundation Program (No. 2012GXNSFBA053119).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Virology & Key Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry for Biology and Medicine (MOE), College of Chemistry and Molecular SciencesWuhan UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory for the Chemistry and Molecular Engineering of Medicinal Resources, School of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical SciencesGuangxi Normal UniversityGuilinPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.College of Life ScienceGuangxi Normal UniversityGuilinPeople’s Republic of China

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