Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α in muscle links metabolism to inflammation


  • Christoph Handschin

    1. Biozentrum, University of Basel, Basel and Institute of Physiology and Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
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  • Presented at the AuPS Symposium Skeletal Muscle: an Endocrine Organ, Melbourne, December 2008. The papers in these proceedings were peer reviewed under the supervision of the AuPS Editor. The papers are being published with the permission of AuPS and were initially published on the AuPS website

Christoph Handschin, Biozentrum, Focal Area Growth and Development, University of Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 50–70, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland. Email:


1. In higher eukaryotes, metabolism and immunity are tightly coupled. However, whereas in evolutionary terms a compromised immune response due to undernourishment has been the predominant problem, the inflammatory response to obesity and other lifestyle-associated diseases has increased in relevance in Western societies in the past 100 years.

2. Traditionally, fat tissue has been considered as the major source of pro-inflammatory secreted factors in these pathologies. However, in recent years the contribution of other tissues to disease-causing chronic inflammation has been increasingly appreciated.

3. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α (PGC-1α) is one of the key regulatory factors in active skeletal muscle. Aberrant expression of PGC-1α in inactive muscle fibres could be linked to a sedentary lifestyle, persistent systemic inflammation and a higher risk for many chronic diseases. Accordingly, modulation of PGC-1α activity in skeletal muscle may have a broad range of therapeutic effects. Here, recent advances in the understanding of the role of muscle PGC-1α in health and disease are reviewed.