Formoterol, a β2-adrenoreceptor agonist, induces mitochondrial biogenesis and promotes cognitive recovery after traumatic brain injury

Hemendra J. Vekaria, W. Brad Hubbard, Natalie E. Scholpa, Malinda L. Spry, Jennifer L. Gooch, Sydney J. Prince, Rick G. Schnellmann, Patrick G. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) leads to acute necrosis at the site of injury followed by a sequence of secondary events lasting from hours to weeks and often years. Targeting mitochondrial impairment following TBI has shown improvements in brain mitochondrial bioenergetics and neuronal function. Recently formoterol, a highly selective β2-adrenoreceptor agonist, was found to induce mitochondrial biogenesis (MB) via Gβγ-Akt-eNOS-sGC pathway. Activation of MB is a novel approach that has been shown to restore mitochondrial function in several disease and injury models. We hypothesized that activation of MB as a target of formoterol after TBI would mitigate mitochondrial dysfunction, enhance neuronal function and improve behavioral outcomes. TBI-injured C57BL/6 male mice were injected (i.p.) with vehicle (normal saline) or formoterol (0.3 mg/kg) at 15 min, 8 h, 16 h, 24 h and then daily after controlled cortical impact (CCI) until euthanasia. After CCI, mitochondrial copy number and bioenergetic function were decreased in the ipsilateral cortex of the CCI-vehicle group. Compared to CCI-vehicle, cortical and hippocampal mitochondrial respiration rates as well as cortical mitochondrial DNA copy number were increased in the CCI-formoterol group. Mitochondrial Ca2+ buffering capacity in the hippocampus was higher in the CCI-formoterol group compared to CCI-vehicle group. Both assessments of cognitive performance, novel object recognition (NOR) and Morris water maze (MWM), decreased following CCI and were restored in the CCI-formoterol group. Although no changes were seen in the amount of cortical tissue spared between CCI-formoterol and CCI-vehicle groups, elevated levels of hippocampal neurons and improved white matter sparing in the corpus callosum were observed in CCI-formoterol group. Collectively, these results indicate that formoterol-mediated MB activation may be a potential therapeutic target to restore mitochondrial bioenergetics and promote functional recovery after TBI.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104866
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
StatePublished - Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020


  • Calcium buffering
  • Controlled cortical impact
  • Mitochondrial bioenergetics
  • Novel object recognition
  • PGC1-α

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Formoterol, a β2-adrenoreceptor agonist, induces mitochondrial biogenesis and promotes cognitive recovery after traumatic brain injury'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this