The American Physiological Society Press Release

press release logo

APS Contact: APS Communications Office


Phone: 301.634.7209

Twitter: @APSPhysiology

Taking It to the Clinic: Using Mitochondria to Diagnose Disease

Asthma, Parkinson’s disease, muscle atrophy detection may be improved by cell powerhouse

San Diego (August 28, 2017)—Leading researchers will discuss advances in understanding the role of mitochondria in health and disease and the use of the “powerhouse of the cell” as a clinical diagnostic tool during the “Translating the Mitochondria—Taking It to the Clinic” symposium at the American Physiological Society’s Physiological Bioenergetics: Mitochondria from Bench to Bedside conference.

“Mitochondria are important to cellular function in every organ, and when mitochondria become dysfunctional, there are significant disease manifestations,” said symposium chair Roberta Gottlieb, MD, director of molecular cardiobiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. In this symposium, researchers “will address translational aspects of bioenergetics, including the use of circulating blood cells for bioenergetic monitoring of systemic disease and assessment of mitochondrial function to gain insights into human health and disease,” Gottlieb explained. Highlights of the symposium program include presentations by Bret Goodpaster, PhD, from Florida Hospital in Orlando, Fla., and Sruti Shiva, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh.

Goodpaster’s presentation, “Muscle Bioenergetics in Exercise and Bed Rest,” will examine what happens to mitochondria during bed rest. His research team took muscle biopsies of older adult volunteers before restricting them to 10 days of complete bed rest. The trial simulated “approximately the same amount of muscle loss that occurs during eight years of normal aging,” Goodpaster wrote. A second muscle biopsy after bed rest showed that the genes associated with mitochondrial energy production and fatty acid metabolism were suppressed during long periods of inactivity. “Therefore, mitochondrial metabolism may be an important target for therapies to combat the loss of muscle mass that occurs with injury, immobilization or hospitalization,” Goodpaster noted.

Shiva will discuss using a minimally invasive blood test to examine mitochondrial changes as a marker for chronic health conditions in her talk, “Platelet Bioenergetics as a Biomarker for Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Human Disease.” Previously, studying known mitochondrial changes in chronic disease required a muscle biopsy. Shiva and her colleagues found that blood platelets show altered patterns in the flow of energy (bioenergetics) in the presences of diseases such as asthma, Parkinson’s disease, sickle cell disease and pulmonary hypertension. This new approach “is exciting because it suggests that perhaps we can use platelet bioenergetics as a measure for disease appearance or progression,” Shiva said.

The “Translating the Mitochondria—Taking It to the Clinic” symposium will be held Monday, August 28, from 2:15 to 4:45 p.m., in the U.S. Grant Hotel.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: The Physiological Bioenergetics: Mitochondria from Bench to Bedside conference will be held in San Diego, August 27–30, 2017. Read the full program. To schedule an interview with the conference organizers or presenters, contact the APS Communications Office or call 301-634-7209. Find more research highlights in the APS Press Room.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,500 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.



Heat Could Aid the Treatment of Cancer, Organ Transplant and Autoimmune Diseases

Released August 29, 2017 - Heat therapy may be a promising treatment in the fight against cancer, autoimmune problems and efforts to avoid organ rejection in transplant patients, according to researchers at the University of Kentucky. The research team exposed colorectal cancer cells and T-cells to temperatures lower and higher than normal body temperatures to observe the effects of temperature change on cellular energy production. They found that heat exposure can slow cancer cell growth and activate T-cells to fight infection. They will present their findings at the Physiological Bioenergetics: Mitochondria from Bench to Bedside conference in San Diego.

Leading Experts Explore the Clinical, Translational Applications of Mitochondria

Released August 22, 2017 - Cross-disciplinary experts who study the mitochondria will convene at the APS “Physiological Bioenergetics: Mitochondria from Bench to Bedside” conference August 27–30 in San Diego. “While mitochondria are traditionally known as the powerhouse of the cell, accumulating studies demonstrate that the shape, movement and function of these organelles control much more in the cell beyond energy levels,” Sruti Shiva, PhD, researcher at the University of Pittsburgh and chair of the conference organizing committee, said.

Mom’s, Not Dad’s, Mitochondria Create Healthy Embryos

Released August 28, 2017 - Mammal embryos shed paternal mitochondria within days of fertilization, perhaps to ensure the offspring a healthy life, a new study shows. Researchers from the California Institute of Technology will present their findings today at the Physiological Bioenergetics: Mitochondria from Bench to Bedside conference in San Diego.

Calorie Reduction + Exercise = Better Muscle Function in Older Adults

Released August 28, 2017 - Improved muscle performance starts with better mitochondrial function. Older adults who are overweight may improve their muscle function with a weight loss program that combines exercise and calorie reduction, according to researchers from Florida Hospital, who present their findings today at the Physiological Bioenergetics: Mitochondria from Bench to Bedside conference in San Diego.