Journal Article

Effect of bezafibrate treatment on late-onset mitochondrial myopathy in mice

Shuichi Yatsuga and Anu Suomalainen

in Human Molecular Genetics

Volume 21, issue 3, pages 526-535
Published in print February 2012 | ISSN: 0964-6906
Published online October 2011 | e-ISSN: 1460-2083 | DOI:
Effect of bezafibrate treatment on late-onset mitochondrial myopathy in mice

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Mitochondrial dysfunction is an important cause of metabolic disorders of children and adults, with no effective therapy options. Recently, induction of mitochondrial biogenesis, by transgenic overexpression of PGC1-alpha [peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-gamma coactivator 1-alpha], was reported to delay progression of early-onset cytochrome-c-oxidase (COX) deficiency in skeletal muscle of two mouse models: a muscle-specific knock-out of COX10 (COX10-mKO) and a constitutive knock-out of Surf1 (Surf1-KO). A pan-PPAR agonist, bezafibrate, could similarly delay myopathy progression in COX10-mKOs, but not in SURF1-KOs. We asked whether bezafibrate affected disease progression in late-onset adult-type mitochondrial myopathy mice. These ‘Deletor mice’ express a dominant patient mutation in Twinkle-helicase, leading to accumulation of multiple mtDNA deletions and subsequent progressive respiratory chain (RC) deficiency with COX-negative muscle fibers at 12 months of age. The primary and secondary molecular findings in Deletor mice mimic closely those in patients with Twinkle myopathy. We applied 0.5% bezafibrate diet to Deletors for 22 weeks, starting at disease manifestation, mimicking patient treatment after diagnosis. Bezafibrate delayed significantly the accumulation of COX-negative fibers and multiple mtDNA deletions. However, mitochondrial biogenesis was not induced: mitochondrial DNA copy number, transcript and RC protein amounts decreased in both Deletors and wild-type mice. Furthermore, bezafibrate induced severe lipid oxidation effects, with hepatomegaly and loss of adipose tissue, the mechanism involving lipid mobilization by high hepatic expression of FGF21 cytokine. However, as bezafibrate has been tolerated well by humans, the beneficial muscle findings in Deletor mice support consideration of bezafibrate trials on adult patients with mitochondrial myopathy.

Journal Article.  5026 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Genetics and Genomics

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