What exactly does a scientist that specializes in muscle do in the lab? This is an image I took of a “histo block” that I was working on today. A histo block is a piece of tissue, in this case human muscle, embedded in a type of gel that is stuck to a slim block of cork. This entire process is the basis of just the histology work that I perform, among many other experiments. In simple terms, I slice the muscle (the red shape on the image) just as a person who works in a deli slices lunch meat. The sections that you get are then put on microscope slides and stained for content inside of the muscle. We currently do 5 stains in our lab: glycogen, succinate dehydrogenase (complex II of the mitochondrial electron transport chain), capillary density, oil red-O (which stains neutral lipids inside of skeletal muscle), and fiber type staining (yes, we can tell you how many Type I or Type II fibers you have, even Type IIx). Finally, the images are acquired under a microscope with an attached camera, some under basic light microscopy and others under fluorescent microscopy, for the analyses. Hope you learned something fun from this.
All the best,