Mitoquinone mesylate (MitoQ) prevents sepsis-induced diaphragm dysfunction

Gerald S. Supinski, Elizabeth A. Schroder, Lin Wang, Andrew J. Morris, Leigh Ann P. Callahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Sepsis-induced diaphragm dysfunction is a major contributor to respiratory failure in mechanically ventilated patients. There are no pharmacological treatments for this syndrome, but studies suggest that diaphragm weakness is linked to mitochondrial free radical generation. We hypothesized that administration of mitoquinone mesylate (MitoQ), a mitochondrially targeted free radical scavenger, would prevent sepsis-induced diaphragm dysfunction. We compared diaphragm function in 4 groups of male mice: 1) sham-operated controls treated with saline (0.3 mL ip), 2) sham-operated treated with MitoQ (3.5 mg/kg/day given intraperitoneally in saline), 3) cecal ligation puncture (CLP) mice treated with saline, and 4) CLP mice treated with MitoQ. Forty-eight hours after surgery, we assessed diaphragm force generation, myosin heavy chain content, state 3 mitochondrial oxygen consumption (OCR), and aconitase activity. We also determined effects of MitoQ in female mice with CLP sepsis and in mice with endotoxin-induced sepsis. CLP decreased diaphragm specific force generation and MitoQ prevented these decrements (e.g. maximal force averaged 30.2 ± 1.3, 28.0 ± 1.3, 12.8 ± 1.9, and 30.0 ± 1.0 N/cm2 for sham, sham þ MitoQ, CLP, and CLP þ MitoQ groups, respectively, P < 0.001). CLP also reduced diaphragm mitochondrial OCR and aconitase activity; MitoQ blocked both effects. Similar responses were observed in female mice and in endotoxin-induced sepsis. Moreover, delayed MitoQ treatment (by 6 h) was as effective as immediate treatment. These data indicate that MitoQ prevents sepsis-induced diaphragm dysfunction, preserving force generation. MitoQ may be a useful therapeutic agent to preserve diaphragm function in critically ill patients with sepsis. NEW & NOTEWORTHY This is the first study to show that mitoquinone mesylate (MitoQ), a mitochondrially targeted antioxidant, treats sepsis-induced skeletal muscle dysfunction. This biopharmaceutical agent is without known side effects and is currently being used by healthy individuals and in clinical trials in patients with various diseases. When taken together, our results suggest that MitoQ has the potential to be immediately translated into treatment for sepsis-induced skeletal muscle dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)778-787
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
G. S. Supinski is supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grants R01HL113494 and R01HL141356 and by Department of Veterans Affairs Grant 5I01BX002132. E. A. Schroder is supported by NIH Grant R01HL141356. A. J. Morris is supported by NIH Grant P30GM127211. L. A. P. Callahan is supported by NIH Grants R01HL112085 and R01HL141356.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Physiological Society. All rights reserved.


  • Diaphragm weakness
  • MitoQ
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction
  • Mitoquinone mesylate
  • Sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Mitoquinone mesylate (MitoQ) prevents sepsis-induced diaphragm dysfunction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this