Cyclophilin D, a target for counteracting skeletal muscle dysfunction in mitochondrial myopathy

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Muscle weakness and exercise intolerance are hallmark symptoms in mitochondrial disorders. Little is known about the mechanisms leading to impaired skeletal muscle function and ultimately muscle weakness in these patients. In a mouse model of lethal mitochondrial myopathy, the muscle-specific Tfam knock-out (KO) mouse, we previously demonstrated an excessive mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake in isolated muscle fibers that could be inhibited by the cyclophilin D (CypD) inhibitor, cyclosporine A (CsA). Here we show that the Tfam KO mice have increased CypD levels, and we demonstrate that this increase is a common feature in patients with mitochondrial myopathy. We tested the effect of CsA treatment on Tfam KO mice during the transition from a mild to terminal myopathy. CsA treatment counteracted the development of muscle weakness and improved muscle fiber Ca2+ handling. Importantly, CsA treatment prolonged the lifespan of these muscle-specific Tfam KO mice. These results demonstrate that CsA treatment is an efficient therapeutic strategy to slow the development of severe mitochondrial myopathy.

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