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COX (Cytochrome Oxidase) Staining

Last updated on Saturday, April 4 2009 by jdmiles

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Cytochrome oxidase (cox) is an oxidative enzyme in the electron transport chain.  Staining for cox is a sensitive method to assess capacity for oxidative metabolism. 

Type I muscle fibers have a higher capacity for oxidative metabolism than type II cells, which have a higher capacity for anaerobic metabolism. This means that the type I muscle cells will stain darker on cox, but should still show some uptake of the stain.

If a third population of very pale fibers is present, this may indicate a subset of fibers which have little or no capacity for oxidative metabolism, suggestive of a metabolic disorder.