Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


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AIM To provide a detailed gene and protein expression analysis related to mitochondrial biogenesis and assess mitochondrial content in skeletal muscle of children with cerebral palsy (CP). METHOD Biceps brachii muscle samples were collected from 19 children with CP (mean [SD] age 15y 4mo [2y 6mo], range 9–18y, 16 males, three females) and 10 typically developing comparison children (mean [SD] age 15y [4y], range 7–21y, eight males, two females). Gene expression (quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction [PCR]), mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to genomic DNA ratio (quantitative PCR), and protein abundance (western blotting) were analyzed. Microarray data sets (CP/aging/bed rest) were analyzed with a focused query investigating metabolism- and mitochondria-related gene networks. RESULTS The mtDNA to genomic DNA ratio was lower in the children with CP compared to the typically developing group (-23%, p=0.002). Out of five investigated complexes in the mitochondrial respiratory chain, we observed lower protein levels of all complexes (I, III, IV, V, -20% to -37%; p<0.05) except complex II. Total peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC1a) messenger RNA (p<0.004), isoforms PGC1a1 (p=0.05), and PGC1a4 (p<0.001) were reduced in CP. Transcriptional similarities were observed between CP, aging, and 90 days’ bed rest. INTERPRETATION Mitochondrial biogenesis, mtDNA, and oxidative phosphorylation protein content are reduced in CP muscle compared with typically developing muscle. Transcriptional pathways shared between aging and long-term unloading suggests metabolic dysregulation in CP, which may guide therapeutic strategies for combatting CP muscle pathology.