How is mitochondrial biogenesis affected in mitochondrial disease?

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 Dec;37(12):2102-10. doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000177426.68149.83.


Mitochondrial biogenesis occurs when the tissue energy demand is chronically increased to stress the ATP producing capacity of the preexisting mitochondria. In muscle, endurance training is a metabolic stress that is capable of inducing mitochondrial biogenesis, the consequence of which is improved performance during exercise. Expansion of the mitochondrial volume requires the coordinated response of the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. During acute exercise, the initial signaling events are the perturbations in ATP turnover and calcium (Ca) concentrations caused by the contractile process. These alterations activate signal transduction pathways which target transcription factors involved in gene expression. Nuclear gene products are then posttranslationally imported into mitochondria. One of these, Tfam, is important for the regulation of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) gene expression. In muscle, a broad range of mitochondrial-specific diseases due to mutations in nuclear DNA or mtDNA exist, termed mitochondrial myopathies. These mutations result in dysfunctional mitochondrial assembly which ultimately leads to reduced ATP production. Mitochondrial myopathy patients exhibit a variety of compensatory responses which attempt to reconcile this energy deficiency, but the extent and the type of compensatory adaptations are disease-specific. Understanding the role of exercise in mediating these compensatory responses leading to mitochondrial biogenesis could help us in prescribing exercise designed to improve mitochondrial function in patients with mitochondrial myopathies. In addition, numerous other diseases (e.g., neurological disorders, cancer, diabetes, and cardiomyopathies), as well as the aging process, have etiologies or consequences attributed, in part, to mitochondrial dysfunction. Thus, insight gained by investigating the steps involved in exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis may help us to understand the underlying basis of these other disease states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / complications*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / physiopathology
  • Muscles / metabolism*
  • Physical Endurance
  • Signal Transduction


  • DNA, Mitochondrial