PGC-1α and exercise intensity dependent adaptations in mouse skeletal muscle

PLoS One. 2017 Oct 19;12(10):e0185993. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0185993. eCollection 2017.


The aim of the present study was to examine the role of PGC-1α in intensity dependent exercise and exercise training-induced metabolic adaptations in mouse skeletal muscle. Whole body PGC-1α knockout (KO) and littermate wildtype (WT) mice performed a single treadmill running bout at either low intensity (LI) for 40 min or moderate intensity (MI) for 20 min. Blood and quadriceps muscles were removed either immediately after exercise or at 3h or 6h into recovery from exercise and from resting controls. In addition PGC-1α KO and littermate WT mice were exercise trained at either low intensity (LIT) for 40 min or at moderate intensity (MIT) for 20 min 2 times pr. day for 5 weeks. In the first and the last week of the intervention period, mice performed a graded running endurance test. Quadriceps muscles were removed before and after the training period for analyses. The acute exercise bout elicited intensity dependent increases in LC3I and LC3II protein and intensity independent decrease in p62 protein in skeletal muscle late in recovery and increased LC3II with exercise training independent of exercise intensity and volume in WT mice. Furthermore, acute exercise and exercise training did not increase LC3I and LC3II protein in PGC-1α KO. In addition, exercise-induced mRNA responses of PGC-1α isoforms were intensity dependent. In conclusion, these findings indicate that exercise intensity affected autophagy markers differently in skeletal muscle and suggest that PGC-1α regulates both acute and exercise training-induced autophagy in skeletal muscle potentially in a PGC-1α isoform specific manner.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Female
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha / genetics
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • PPARGC1A protein, human
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Glycogen
  • Epinephrine

Grants and funding

The project was funded by the Lundbeck Foundation (R100-2011-9337) to HP, The Danish Council for Independent Research - Natural Sciences (0602-02281B) to HP and The Danish Ministry of Culture Research Committee (KFU) (TAKT2014-367) to NB.