Article open access publication

PGC‐1α promotes exercise‐induced autophagy in mouse skeletal muscle

Physiological Reports, Wiley, ISSN 2051-817X

Volume 4, 3, 2016

DOI:10.14814/phy2.12698, Dimensions: pub.1017235544, PMC: PMC4758928, PMID: 26869683,



  1. (1) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU






Recent evidence suggests that exercise stimulates the degradation of cellular components in skeletal muscle through activation of autophagy, but the time course of the autophagy response during recovery from exercise has not been determined. Furthermore, the regulatory mechanisms behind exercise-induced autophagy remain unclear, although the muscle oxidative phenotype has been linked with basal autophagy levels. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the role of the key regulator of muscle oxidative capacity, PGC-1α, in exercise-induced autophagy at several time points during recovery. Mice with transgenic muscle-specific overexpression (TG) or knockout (MKO) of PGC-1α and their respective littermate controls were subjected to a single 1 h bout of treadmill running and euthanized immediately (0 h), 2, 6, and 10 h after exercise. In the PGC-1α MKO strain, quadriceps protein content of the autophagy marker LC3II was increased from 2 h into recovery in lox/lox control, but not in MKO mice. In the PGC-1α TG strain, quadriceps protein content of LC3II was increased from 2 h after exercise in TG, but not in WT. Although AMPK and ACC phosphorylation was increased immediately following exercise, the observed exercise-induced autophagy response was not associated with phosphorylation of the AMPK-target ULK1. However, lower protein carbonyl content was observed in lox/lox and TG mice after exercise coinciding with the increased LC3 lipidation. In conclusion, the present results suggest a role of skeletal muscle PGC-1α in coordinating several exercise-induced adaptive responses including autophagic removal of damaged cellular components.


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