(-)-Epicatechin (Epi), a flavanol in cacao stimulates mitochondrial volume and cristae density and protein markers of skeletal muscle (SkM) mitochondrial biogenesis in mice. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2) and heart failure (HF) are diseases associated with defects in SkM mitochondrial structure/function. A study was implemented to assess perturbations and to determine the effects of Epi-rich cocoa in SkM mitochondrial structure and mediators of biogenesis. Five patients with DM2 and stage II/III HF consumed dark chocolate and a beverage containing approximately 100 mg of Epi per day for 3 months. We assessed changes in protein and/or activity levels of oxidative phosphorylation proteins, porin, mitofilin, nNOS, nitric oxide, cGMP, SIRT1, PGC1α, Tfam, and mitochondria volume and cristae abundance by electron microscopy from SkM. Apparent major losses in normal mitochondria structure were observed before treatment. Epi-rich cocoa increased protein and/or activity of mediators of biogenesis and cristae abundance while not changing mitochondrial volume density. Epi-rich cocoa treatment improves SkM mitochondrial structure and in an orchestrated manner, increases molecular markers of mitochondrial biogenesis resulting in enhanced cristae density. Future controlled studies are warranted using Epi-rich cocoa (or pure Epi) to translate improved mitochondrial structure into enhanced cardiac and/or SkM muscle function.
© 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.