Mitochondrial Biogenesis as a Pharmacological Target: A New Approach to Acute and Chronic Diseases

Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2016;56:229-49. doi: 10.1146/annurev-pharmtox-010715-103155. Epub 2015 Nov 4.


Mitochondrial dysfunction is a key pathophysiological component of many acute and chronic diseases. Maintenance of mitochondrial homeostasis through the balance of mitochondrial turnover, fission and fusion, and generation of new mitochondria via mitochondrial biogenesis is critical for tissue health. Pharmacological activation of mitochondrial biogenesis can enhance oxidative metabolism and tissue bioenergetics, and improve organ function in conditions characterized by mitochondrial dysfunction. However, owing to the complexity of mitochondrial assembly and maintenance, identification of specific activators of mitochondrial biogenesis has been difficult. This review provides an overview of the role of mitochondrial dysfunction in acute and chronic diseases, details the current state of therapeutics for the stimulation of mitochondrial biogenesis and their effects on disease outcomes, describes new screening methodologies to identify novel stimulators and noncanonical pathways of mitochondrial biogenesis, and discusses potential hurdles of mitochondrial biogenesis as a therapeutic strategy.

Keywords: drug screening; high-throughput respirometry; mitochondrial homeostasis; tissue bioenergetics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease / therapy*
  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Organelle Biogenesis