Role of PGC-1α signaling in skeletal muscle health and disease

Chounghun Kang, Li Li Ji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Scopus citations


This paper reviews the current understanding of the molecular basis of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α (PGC-1α)-mediated pathway and discusses the role of PGC-1α in skeletal muscle atrophy caused by immobilization. PGC-1α is the master transcription regulator that stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis, by upregulating nuclear respiratory factors (NRF-1, 2) and mitochondrial transcription factor A (Tfam), which leads to increased mitochondrial DNA replication and gene transcription. PGC-1α also regulates cellular oxidant-antioxidant homeostasis by stimulating the gene expression of superoxide dismutase-2 (SOD2), catalase, glutathione peroxidase 1 (GPx1), and uncoupling protein (UCP). Recent reports from muscle-specific PGC-1α overexpression underline the importance of PGC-1α in atrophied skeletal muscle, demonstrate enhancement of the PGC-1α mitochondrial biogenic pathway, and reduced oxidative damage. Thus, PGC-1α appears to play a protective role against atrophy-linked skeletal muscle deterioration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-117
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Inflammation
  • Mitochondria
  • Muscle atrophy
  • PGC-1


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