Effects of exercise in a cold environment on transcriptional control of PGC-1α

Robert J. Shute, Matthew W. Heesch, Roksana B. Zak, Jodi L. Kreiling, Dustin R. Slivka

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19 Scopus citations


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α coactivator-1α (PGC- 1α) mRNA is increased with both exercise and exposure to cold temperature. However, transcriptional control has yet to be examined during exercise in the cold. Additionally, the need for environmental cold exposure after exercise may not be a practical recovery modality. The purpose of this study was to determine mitochondrial-related gene expression and transcriptional control of PGC-1α following exercise in a cold compared with room temperature environment. Eleven recreationally trained males completed two 1-h cycling bouts in a cold (7°C) or room temperature (20°C) environment, followed by 3 h of supine recovery in standard room conditions. Muscle biopsies were taken from the vastus lateralis preexercise, postexercise, and after a 3-h recovery. Gene expression and transcription factor binding to the PGC-1α promoter were analyzed. PGC-1α mRNA increased from preexercise to 3 h of recovery, but there was no difference between trials. Estrogen-related receptor-was no difference between trials. Estrogen-related recept-α (ERRα), myocyte enhancer factor-2 (MEF2A), and nuclear respiratory factor-1 (NRF-1) mRNA were lower in cold than at room temperature. Forkhead box class-O (FOXO1) and cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) binding to the PGC-1α promoter were increased postexercise and at 3 h of recovery. MEF2A binding increased postexercise, and activating transcription factor 2 (ATF2) binding increased at 3 h of recovery. These data indicate no difference in PGC-1α mRNA or transcriptional control after exercise in cold versus room temperature and 3 h of recovery. However, the observed reductions in the mRNA of select transcription factors downstream of PGC-1α indicate a potential influence of exercise in the cold on the transcriptional response related to mitochondrial biogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R850-R857
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Endurance exercise
  • Mitochondria
  • Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Temperature


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