The acute effects of exercise and temperature on regional mtDNA

Mark L. McGlynn, Halee Schnitzler, Robert Shute, Brent Ruby, Dustin Slivka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A reduced mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) copy number, the ratio of mitochondrial DNA to genomic DNA (mtDNA:gDNA), has been linked with dysfunctional mitochondria. Exercise can acutely induce mtDNA damage manifested as a reduced copy number. However, the influence of a paired (exercise and temperature) intervention on regional mtDNA (MINor Arc and MAJor Arc) are unknown. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine the acute effects of exercise in cold (7C), room temperature (20C), and hot (33C) ambient temperatures, on regional mitochondrial copy number (MINcn and MAJcn). Thirty-four participants (24.4 ± 5.1 yrs, 87.1 ± 22.1 kg, 22.3 ± 8.5 %BF, and 3.20 ± 0.59 L·min−1 VO2peak) cycled for 1 h (261.1 ± 22.1 W) in either 7C, 20C, or 33C ambient conditions. Muscle biopsy samples were collected from the vastus lateralis to determine mtDNA regional copy numbers via RT-qPCR. mtDNA is sensitive to the stressors of exercise post-exercise (MIN fold change, −1.50 ± 0.11; MAJ fold change, −1.70 ± 0.12) and 4-h post-exercise (MIN fold change, −0.82 ± 0.13; MAJ fold change, −1.54 ± 0.11). The MAJ Arc seems to be more sensitive to heat, showing a temperature-trend (p = 0.056) for a reduced regional copy number ratio after exercise in the heat (fold change −2.81 ± 0.11; p = 0.019). These results expand upon our current knowledge of the influence of temperature and exercise on the acute remodeling of regional mtDNA.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6382
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 2 2021


  • Ambient temperature
  • Copy number
  • Exercise
  • Mitochondria
  • MtDNA
  • Thermoregulation


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