Mitochondria in the middle: exercise preconditioning protection of striated muscle. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cellular and physiological adaptations to an atmosphere which became enriched in molecular oxygen spurred the development of a layered system of stress protection, including antioxidant and stress response proteins. At physiological levels reactive oxygen and nitrogen species regulate cell signalling as well as intracellular and intercellular communication. Exercise and physical activity confer a variety of stressors on skeletal muscle and the cardiovascular system: mechanical, metabolic, oxidative. Transient increases of stressors during acute bouts of exercise or exercise training stimulate enhancement of cellular stress protection against future insults of oxidative, metabolic and mechanical stressors that could induce injury or disease. This phenomenon has been termed both hormesis and exercise preconditioning (EPC). EPC stimulates transcription factors such as Nrf-1 and heat shock factor-1 and up-regulates gene expression of a cadre of cytosolic (e.g. glutathione peroxidase and heat shock proteins) and mitochondrial adaptive or stress proteins (e.g. manganese superoxide dismutase, mitochondrial KATP channels and peroxisome proliferator activated receptor coactivator-1 (PGC-1)). Stress response and antioxidant enzyme inducibility with exercise lead to protection against striated muscle damage, oxidative stress and injury. EPC may indeed provide significant clinical protection against ischaemia-reperfusion injury, Type II diabetes and ageing. New molecular mechanisms of protection, such as -opioid receptor regulation and mitophagy, reinforce the notion that mitochondrial adaptations (e.g. heat shock proteins, antioxidant enzymes and sirtuin-1/PGC-1 signalling) are central to the protective effects of exercise preconditioning.

published proceedings

  • J Physiol

altmetric score

  • 26.1

author list (cited authors)

  • Lawler, J. M., Rodriguez, D. A., & Hord, J. M.

citation count

  • 31

complete list of authors

  • Lawler, John M||Rodriguez, Dinah A||Hord, Jeffrey M

publication date

  • September 2016