Muscle immobilization and remobilization downregulates PGC-1α signaling and the mitochondrial biogenesis pathway

Chounghun Kang, Li Li Ji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Prolonged immobilization (IM) results in skeletal muscle atrophy accompanied by increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, inflammation, and protein degradation. However, the biological consequence of remobilizing such muscle has been studied only sparsely. In this study, we examined the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α (PGC-1α)-controlled mitochondrial biogenesis pathway and inflammatory response in mice subjected to 2 wk of hindlimb IM followed by 5 days of remobilization (RM). We hypothesized that ROS generation and activation of redox-sensitive signaling pathways play important roles in the etiology of muscle injury. FVB/N mice (age 2 mo) were randomly assigned to either 14 days of IM by casting one of the hindlimbs (n = 7), IM followed by 5 days of RM with casting removed (n = 7), or to a control group (Con; n = 7). Muscle to body weight ratios of three major leg muscles were significantly decreased as a result of IM. Two ubiquitin-proteasome pathway enzymes, muscle atrophy F-box (MAFb or atrogin-1) and muscle ring finger-1 (MuRF-1), were upregulated with IM and maintained at high levels during RM. Protein contents of PGC-1α and nuclear respiratory factors 1 and 2 in tibialis anterior (TA) muscle were reduced by 50% (P < 0.01) in IM vs. Con, with no recovery observed during RM. IM suppressed mitochondrial transcription factor A and cytochrome-c content by 57% and 63% (P < 0.01), respectively, and cytochrome-c oxidase activity by 58% (P < 0.05). Furthermore, mitochondrial DNA content was reduced by 71% (P < 0.01) with IM. None of these changes were reversed after RM. With RM, TA muscle showed a 2.3-fold (P < 0.05) higher H2O2 content and a 4-fold (P < 0.01) higher 8-isoprostane content compared with Con, indicating oxidative stress. Tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-6 levels in TA muscle were 4-and 3-fold higher (P < 0.05), respectively, in IM and RM vs. CON. The nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) pathway activation was observed only after RM, but not after IM alone. These data indicate an increase in ROS generation during the initial phase of muscle RM that could activate the NF-κB pathway, and elicit inflammation and oxidative stress. These events may hinder muscle recovery from IM-induced mitochondrial deterioration and protein loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1618-1625
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013


  • Atrophy
  • Immobilization
  • Inflammation
  • Mitochondria
  • Proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α
  • Remobilization
  • Skeletal muscle


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