Skeletal muscle dysfunction is associated with derangements in mitochondrial bioenergetics (but not UCP3) in a rodent model of sepsis

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2015 May 1;308(9):E713-25. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00562.2014. Epub 2015 Feb 24.


Muscle dysfunction is a common feature of severe sepsis and multiorgan failure. Recent evidence implicates bioenergetic dysfunction and oxidative damage as important underlying pathophysiological mechanisms. Increased abundance of uncoupling protein-3 (UCP3) in sepsis suggests increased mitochondrial proton leak, which may reduce mitochondrial coupling efficiency but limit reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. Using a murine model, we examined metabolic, cardiovascular, and skeletal muscle contractile changes following induction of peritoneal sepsis in wild-type and Ucp3(-/-) mice. Mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) was measured using two-photon microscopy in living diaphragm, and contractile function was measured in diaphragm muscle strips. The kinetic relationship between membrane potential and oxygen consumption was determined using a modular kinetic approach in isolated mitochondria. Sepsis was associated with significant whole body metabolic suppression, hypothermia, and cardiovascular dysfunction. Maximal force generation was reduced and fatigue accelerated in ex vivo diaphragm muscle strips from septic mice. Δψm was lower in the isolated diaphragm from septic mice despite normal substrate oxidation kinetics and proton leak in skeletal muscle mitochondria. Even though wild-type mice exhibited an absolute 26 ± 6% higher UCP3 protein abundance at 24 h, no differences were seen in whole animal or diaphragm physiology, nor in survival rates, between wild-type and Ucp3(-/-) mice. In conclusion, this murine sepsis model shows a hypometabolic phenotype with evidence of significant cardiovascular and muscle dysfunction. This was associated with lower Δψm and alterations in mitochondrial ATP turnover and the phosphorylation pathway. However, UCP3 does not play an important functional role, despite its upregulation.

Keywords: metabolism; mitochondria; uncoupling protein 3.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Respiration / genetics
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Energy Metabolism* / genetics
  • Ion Channels / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / pathology
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Muscular Diseases / genetics
  • Muscular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Muscular Diseases / mortality
  • Muscular Diseases / pathology
  • Sepsis* / metabolism
  • Sepsis* / mortality
  • Sepsis* / physiopathology
  • Uncoupling Protein 3


  • Ion Channels
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Ucp3 protein, mouse
  • Uncoupling Protein 3