Skeletal muscle is a unique tissue because of its structure and function, which requires specific protocols for tissue collection to obtain optimal results from functional, cellular, molecular, and pathological evaluations. Due to the subtlety of some pathological abnormalities seen in congenital muscle disorders and the potential for fixation to interfere with the recognition of these features, pathological evaluation of frozen muscle is preferable to fixed muscle when evaluating skeletal muscle for congenital muscle disease. Additionally, the potential to produce severe freezing artifacts in muscle requires specific precautions when freezing skeletal muscle for histological examination that are not commonly used when freezing other tissues. This manuscript describes a protocol for rapid freezing of skeletal muscle using isopentane (2-methylbutane) cooled with liquid nitrogen to preserve optimal skeletal muscle morphology. This procedure is also effective for freezing tissue intended for genetic or protein expression studies. Furthermore, we have integrated our freezing protocol into a broader procedure that also describes preferred methods for the short term triage of tissue for (1) single fiber functional studies and (2) myoblast cell culture, with a focus on the minimum effort necessary to collect tissue and transport it to specialized research or reference labs to complete these studies. Overall, this manuscript provides an outline of how fresh tissue can be effectively distributed for a variety of phenotypic studies and thereby provides standard operating procedures (SOPs) for pathological studies related to congenital muscle disease.

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Published in the Journal of Visualized Experiments, issue 89, article e51586, p. 1-8.

Copyright © 2014 Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

This article also features a video presentation, available at http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/51586

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This publication is funded through Cure CMD, an Association Contre Les Myopathies (AFM) grant (project 16297), and the National Institutes of Health (grant numbers K08 AR059750 and L40 AR057721).

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