Defining cardiac adaptations and safety of endurance training in patients with m.3243A>G-related mitochondrial disease

MG Bates, JH Newman, DG Jakovljevic, KG Hollingsworth, CL Alston, P Zalewski, JJ Klawe, AM Blamire, GA MacGowan, BD Keavney, JP Bourke, A Schaefer, R McFarland, JL Newton, DM Turnbull, Robert W Taylor, MI Trenell, GS Gorman

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Background Cardiac hypertrophic remodelling and systolic dysfunction are common in patients with mitochondrial disease and independent predictors of morbidity and early mortality. Endurance exercise training improves symptoms and skeletal muscle function, yet cardiac adaptations are unknown. Methods and results Before and after 16-weeks of training, exercise capacity, cardiac magnetic resonance imaging and phosphorus-31 spectroscopy, disease burden, fatigue, quality of life, heart rate variability (HRV) and blood pressure variability (BPV) were assessed in 10 adult patients with m.3243A>G-related mitochondrial disease, and compared to age- and gender-matched sedentary control subjects. At baseline, patients had increased left ventricular mass index (LVMI, p < 0.05) and LV mass to end-diastolic volume ratio, and decreased longitudinal shortening and myocardial phosphocreatine/adenosine triphosphate ratio (all p < 0.01). Peak arterial–venous oxygen difference (p < 0.05), oxygen uptake (VO2) and power were decreased in patients (both p < 0.01) with no significant difference in cardiac power output. All patients remained stable and completed ≥80% sessions. With training, there were similar proportional increases in peak VO2, anaerobic threshold and work capacity in patients and controls. LVMI increased in both groups (p < 0.01), with no significant effect on myocardial function or bioenergetics. Pre- and post-exercise training, HRV and BPV demonstrated increased low frequency and decreased high frequency components in patients compared to controls (all p < 0.05). Conclusion Patients with mitochondrial disease and controls achieved similar proportional benefits of exercise training, without evidence of disease progression, or deleterious effects on cardiac function. Reduced exercise capacity is largely mediated through skeletal muscle dysfunction at baseline and sympathetic over-activation may be important in pathogenesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3599-3608
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
Early online date3 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.


  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Endurance exercise
  • Autonomic function
  • Cardio-pulmonary exercise testing
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance spectroscopy


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