Activation of the PPAR/PGC-1alpha pathway prevents a bioenergetic deficit and effectively improves a mitochondrial myopathy phenotype.
Neuromuscular disorders with defects in the mitochondrial ATP-generating system affect a large number of children and adults worldwide, but remain without treatment. We used a mouse model of mitochondrial myopathy, caused by a cytochrome c oxidase deficiency, to evaluate the effect of induced mitochondrial biogenesis on the course of the disease. Mitochondrial biogenesis was induced either by transgenic expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) coactivator alpha (PGC-1alpha) in skeletal muscle or by administration of bezafibrate, a PPAR panagonist. Both strategies successfully stimulated residual respiratory capacity in muscle tissue. Mitochondrial proliferation resulted in an enhanced OXPHOS capacity per muscle mass. As a consequence, ATP levels were conserved resulting in a delayed onset of the myopathy and a markedly prolonged life span. Thus, induction of mitochondrial biogenesis through pharmacological or metabolic modulation of the PPAR/PGC-1alpha pathway promises to be an effective therapeutic approach for mitochondrial disorders.