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Mechanisms of Exercise-Induced Mitochondrial Biogenesis in Skeletal Muscle: Implications for Health and Disease

  1. David A. Hood,
  2. Giulia Uguccioni,
  3. Anna Vainshtein,
  4. Donna D'souza

Published Online: 1 JUL 2011

DOI: 10.1002/cphy.c100074

Comprehensive Physiology

Comprehensive Physiology

How to Cite

Hood, D. A., Uguccioni, G., Vainshtein, A. and D'souza, D. 2011. Mechanisms of Exercise-Induced Mitochondrial Biogenesis in Skeletal Muscle: Implications for Health and Disease. Comprehensive Physiology. 1:1119–1134.

Author Information

  1. School of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 JUL 2011


Mitochondria have paradoxical functions within cells. Essential providers of energy for cellular survival, they are also harbingers of cell death (apoptosis). Mitochondria exhibit remarkable dynamics, undergoing fission, fusion, and reticular expansion. Both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) encode vital sets of proteins which, when incorporated into the inner mitochondrial membrane, provide electron transport capacity for ATP production, and when mutated lead to a broad spectrum of diseases. Acute exercise can activate a set of signaling cascades in skeletal muscle, leading to the activation of the gene expression pathway, from transcription, to post-translational modifications. Research has begun to unravel the important signals and their protein targets that trigger the onset of mitochondrial adaptations to exercise. Exercise training leads to an accumulation of nuclear- and mtDNA-encoded proteins that assemble into functional complexes devoted to mitochondrial respiration, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, the import of proteins and metabolites, or apoptosis. This process of biogenesis has important consequences for metabolic health, the oxidative capacity of muscle, and whole body fitness. In contrast, the chronic muscle disuse that accompanies aging or muscle wasting diseases provokes a decline in mitochondrial content and function, which elicits excessive ROS formation and apoptotic signaling. Research continues to seek the molecular underpinnings of how regular exercise can be used to attenuate these decrements in organelle function, maintain skeletal muscle health, and improve quality of life. © 2011 American Physiological Society. Compr Physiol 1:1119-1134, 2011.