Distal control of mitochondrial biogenesis and respiratory activity by extracellular lactate caused by large-scale deletion of mitochondrial DNA

Pharmacol Res. 2020 Oct;160:105204. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2020.105204. Epub 2020 Sep 15.


Lactate is highly produced under conditions of respiratory dysfunction such as anaerobic respiration and various types of mitochondrial diseases, and it was also known as an active molecule that plays various roles both within and between cells. High levels of extracellular lactate may lead to lactic acidosis, which has been related to pathology of the mitochondrial diseases with mutated mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). In this study, to elucidate the poorly understood molecular roles of extracellular lactate in mitochondrial regulation, we analyzed mouse B82 cells and their cybrid cells carrying mutated mtDNA with a large-scale deletion (ΔmtDNA). Inhibition of lactate production by sodium dichloroacetate (DCA) treatment improved mitochondrial respiration in cells carrying ΔmtDNA through the activation of mitochondrial biogenesis. Chronic exposure to extracellular lactate (more than 3 days) repressed mitochondrial respiration in healthy cells via calcium and CaMK signaling, leading to a decrease in PGC1α-mediated mitochondrial biogenesis. These mitochondrial dysfunctions induced by the lactate treatment were repressed by pH buffering of the medium. These results suggest that lactate, produced in respiration-deficient cells, acts not only as an intracellular source of energy through the TCA cycle, but also as an extracellular messenger molecule regulating the respiratory activity of both cells carrying ΔmtDNA and the surrounding cells, which could cause whole-body repression of respiratory activity.

Keywords: Acidosis; Lactate; Mitochondrial DNA; Mitochondrial diseases; Respiration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Cell Line
  • Citric Acid Cycle / drug effects
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Dichloroacetic Acid / pharmacology
  • Extracellular Space / metabolism
  • Gene Deletion
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Organelle Biogenesis*
  • Oxygen Consumption / genetics*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha / metabolism


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha
  • Ppargc1a protein, mouse
  • Lactic Acid
  • Dichloroacetic Acid