Contribution of mitochondrial proton leak to skeletal muscle respiration and to standard metabolic rate

Am J Physiol. 1996 Oct;271(4 Pt 1):C1380-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.1996.271.4.C1380.


We have tested the hypothesis that the leak of protons across the mitochondrial inner membrane (proton leak) is a significant contributor to standard metabolic rate (SMR). We found that proton leak accounts for around one-half of the resting respiration rate of perfused rat skeletal muscle. Proton leak is known to make a significant (26%) contribution to the resting respiration rate of isolated rat hepatocytes (M. D. Brand, L.-F. Chien, E. K. Ainscow, D. F. S. Rolfe, and R. K. Porter. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1187: 132-139, 1994). If the importance of proton leak in these isolated and perfused systems is similar to its importance in vivo, then using literature values for the contribution of liver and skeletal muscle to SMR, we can calculate that proton leak in liver and skeletal muscle alone accounts for 11-26% (mean 20%) of the SMR of the rat. If proton leak activity in the other tissues of the rat is similar to that in liver cells, then the contribution of proton leak to rat SMR would be 16-31% (mean 25%).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Intracellular Membranes / physiology
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / metabolism*
  • Muscle Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Oligomycins / pharmacology
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Pentobarbital / pharmacology
  • Permeability
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sarcolemma / physiology
  • Uncoupling Agents / pharmacology


  • Muscle Proteins
  • Oligomycins
  • Uncoupling Agents
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Pentobarbital