MitoTEMPOL, a mitochondrial targeted antioxidant, prevents sepsis-induced diaphragm dysfunction

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


MitoTEMPOL, a mitochondrial targeted antioxidant, prevents sepsis-induced diaphragm dysfunction. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol 319: L228-L238, 2020. First published May 27, 2020; doi:10.1152/ajplung.00473.2019.-Clinical studies indicate that sepsis-induced diaphragm dysfunction is a major contributor to respiratory failure in mechanically ventilated patients. Currently there is no drug to treat this form of diaphragm weakness. Sepsis-induced muscle dysfunction is thought to be triggered by excessive mitochondrial free radical generation; we therefore hypothesized that therapies that target mitochondrial free radical production may prevent sepsis-induced diaphragm weakness. The present study determined whether MitoTEMPOL, a mitochondrially targeted free radical scavenger, could reduce sepsis-induced diaphragm dysfunction. Using an animal model of sepsis, we compared four groups of mice: 1) sham-operated controls, 2) animals with sepsis induced by cecal ligation puncture (CLP), 3) sham controls given MitoTEMPOL (10 mg kg-1 day-1ip), and 4) CLP animals given MitoTEMPOL. At 48 h after surgery, we measured diaphragm force generation, mitochondrial function, proteolytic enzyme activities, and myosin heavy chain (MHC) content. We also examined the effects of delayed administration of MitoTEMPOL (by 6 h) on CLP-induced diaphragm weakness. The effects of MitoTEMPOL on cytokine-mediated alterations on muscle cell superoxide generation and cell size in vitro were also assessed. Sepsis markedly reduced diaphragm force generation. Both immediate and delayed MitoTEMPOL administration prevented sepsis-induced diaphragm weakness. MitoTEMPOL reversed sepsismediated reductions in mitochondrial function, activation of proteolytic pathways, and decreases in MHC content. Cytokines increased muscle cell superoxide generation and decreased cell size, effects that were ablated by MitoTEMPOL. MitoTEMPOL and other compounds that target mitochondrial free radical generation may be useful therapies for sepsis-induced diaphragm weakness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L228-L238
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Physiological Society. All rights reserved.


  • Diaphragm Weakness
  • Mitochondrial Dysfunction
  • Mitotempol
  • Proteolysis
  • Sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cell Biology


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