The β2-adrenoceptor Agonist Formoterol Stimulates Mitochondrial Biogenesis

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2012 Jul;342(1):106-18. doi: 10.1124/jpet.112.191528. Epub 2012 Apr 6.


Mitochondrial dysfunction is a common mediator of disease and organ injury. Although recent studies show that inducing mitochondrial biogenesis (MB) stimulates cell repair and regeneration, only a limited number of chemicals are known to induce MB. To examine the impact of the β-adrenoceptor (β-AR) signaling pathway on MB, primary renal proximal tubule cells (RPTC) and adult feline cardiomyocytes were exposed for 24 h to multiple β-AR agonists: isoproterenol (nonselective β-AR agonist), (±)-(R*,R*)-[4-[2-[[2-(3-chlorophenyl)-2-hydroxyethyl]amino]propyl]phenoxy] acetic acid sodium hydrate (BRL 37344) (selective β(3)-AR agonist), and formoterol (selective β(2)-AR agonist). The Seahorse Biosciences (North Billerica, MA) extracellular flux analyzer was used to quantify carbonylcyanide p-trifluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone (FCCP)-uncoupled oxygen consumption rate (OCR), a marker of maximal electron transport chain activity. Isoproterenol and BRL 37244 did not alter mitochondrial respiration at any of the concentrations examined. Formoterol exposure resulted in increases in both FCCP-uncoupled OCR and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number. The effect of formoterol on OCR in RPTC was inhibited by the β-AR antagonist propranolol and the β(2)-AR inverse agonist 3-(isopropylamino)-1-[(7-methyl-4-indanyl)oxy]butan-2-ol hydrochloride (ICI-118,551). Mice exposed to formoterol for 24 or 72 h exhibited increases in kidney and heart mtDNA copy number, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α, and multiple genes involved in the mitochondrial electron transport chain (F0 subunit 6 of transmembrane F-type ATP synthase, NADH dehydrogenase subunit 1, NADH dehydrogenase subunit 6, and NADH dehydrogenase [ubiquinone] 1β subcomplex subunit 8). Cheminformatic modeling, virtual chemical library screening, and experimental validation identified nisoxetine from the Sigma Library of Pharmacologically Active Compounds and two compounds from the ChemBridge DIVERSet that increased mitochondrial respiratory capacity. These data provide compelling evidence for the use and development of β(2)-AR ligands for therapeutic MB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Carbonyl Cyanide p-Trifluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone / pharmacology
  • Cats
  • Cell Respiration / drug effects
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / metabolism
  • Electron Transport / drug effects
  • Ethanolamines / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Fluoxetine / analogs & derivatives
  • Fluoxetine / pharmacology
  • Formoterol Fumarate
  • Heart / drug effects
  • Isoproterenol / pharmacology
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Organelle Biogenesis
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • PPAR gamma / metabolism
  • Propanolamines / pharmacology
  • Rabbits
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Adrenergic beta-Agonists
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Ethanolamines
  • PPAR gamma
  • Propanolamines
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta
  • Fluoxetine
  • nisoxetine
  • Carbonyl Cyanide p-Trifluoromethoxyphenylhydrazone
  • ICI 118551
  • Isoproterenol
  • Formoterol Fumarate