Leucine modulation of mitochondrial mass and oxygen consumption in skeletal muscle cells and adipocytes

Nutr Metab (Lond). 2009 Jun 5:6:26. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-6-26.


Background: The effects of dairy on energy metabolism appear to be mediated, in part, by leucine and calcium which regulate both adipocyte and skeletal muscle energy metabolism. We recently demonstrated that leucine and calcitriol regulate fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle cells in vitro, with leucine promoting and calcitriol suppressing fatty acid oxidation. Moreover, leucine coordinately regulated adipocyte lipid metabolism to promote flux of lipid to skeletal muscle and regulate metabolic flexibility. We have now investigated the role of mitochondrial biogenesis in mediating these effects.

Methods: We tested the effect of leucine, calcitriol and calcium in regulation of mitochondrial mass using a fluorescence method and tested mitochondrial biogenesis regulatory genes as well mitochondrial component genes using real-time PCR. We also evaluated the effect of leucine on oxygen consumption with a modified perfusion system.

Results: Leucine (0.5 mM) increased mitochondrial mass by 30% and 53% in C2C12 myocytes and 3T3-L1 adipocytes, respectively, while calcitriol (10 nM) decreased mitochondrial abundance by 37% and 27% (p < 0.02). Leucine also stimulated mitochondrial biogenesis genes SIRT-1, PGC-1alpha and NRF-1 as well as mitochondrial component genes UCP3, COX, and NADH expression by 3-5 fold in C2C12 cells (p < 0.003). Adipocyte-conditioned medium reduced mitochondrial abundance (p < 0.001) and decreased UCP3 but increased PGC-1alpha expression in myocytes, suggesting a feedback stimulation of mitochondrial biogenesis. Similar data were observed in C2C12 myocytes co-cultured with adipocytes, with co-culture markedly suppressing mitochondrial abundance (p < 0.02). Leucine stimulated oxygen consumption in both C2C12 cells and adipocytes compared with either control or valine-treated cells. Transfection of C2C12 myocytes with SIRT-1 siRNA resulted in parallel suppression of SIRT-1 expression and leucine-induced stimulation of PGC-1alpha and NRF-1, indicating that SIRT-1 mediates leucine induced mitochondrial biogenesis in muscle cells.

Conclusion: These data suggest that leucine and calcitriol modulation of muscle and adipocyte energy metabolism is mediated, in part, by mitochondrial biogenesis.