PPARgamma agonist pioglitazone does not enhance performance in mice

Drug Test Anal. 2014 Sep;6(9):922-9. doi: 10.1002/dta.1587. Epub 2013 Nov 20.


Peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) delta and adenosine monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinases (AMPKs) regulate the metabolic and contractile characteristics of myofibres. PPAR proteins are nuclear receptors that function as transcription factors and regulate the expression of multiple genes. AMPK has been described as a master metabolic regulator which also controls gene expression through the direct phosphorylation of some nuclear proteins. Since it was discovered that both PPARdelta agonists (GW1516) and AMPK activators (5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide-1-β-D-ribofuranoside, known as AICAR) are very effective performance-enhancing substances in sedentary mice, the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) included AICAR and GW1516 in the prohibited list of substances as metabolic modulators in the class 'Hormone and metabolic modulators'. Thiazolidinediones are PPARgamma agonists that can induce similar biological effects to those of PPARdelta and PPARdelta-AMPK agonists. Thus in this study, the effects of pioglitazone on mitochondrial biogenesis and performance were evaluated. Blood glucose levels and the protein expression of the intermediates involved in the mitochondrial biogenesis pathway and the citrate synthase activity were determined in both gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. Maximal aerobic velocity (MAV), endurance capacity, and grip strength before and after the training period were also determined. The MAV endurance capacity and grip strength of trained animals significantly increased. We found that the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α (PGC-1α) and the nuclear respiratory factor-1 (NRF-1) protein content and citrate synthase activity significantly increased in the soleus muscle of trained animals. No effect of treatment was found. Therefore in our study, pioglitazone administration did not affect mitochondrial biogenesis signaling pathway.

Keywords: PGC-1α; endurance capacity; maximal aerobic velocity; mitochondrial biogenesis; performance; thiazolidinediones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Hand Strength
  • Maximal Voluntary Ventilation / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mitochondrial Turnover / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • PPAR gamma / agonists*
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / pharmacology
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal
  • Physical Endurance / drug effects
  • Pioglitazone
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Thiazolidinediones / pharmacology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • PPAR gamma
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Pioglitazone