Reduced mitochondrial DNA and OXPHOS protein content in skeletal muscle of children with cerebral palsy

Ferdinand von Walden, Ivan J. Vechetti, Davis Englund, Vandré C. Figueiredo, Rodrigo Fernandez-Gonzalo, Kevin Murach, Jessica Pingel, John J. Mccarthy, Per Stål, Eva Pontén

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


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 (PGC1α) messenger RNA (p<0.004), isoforms PGC1α1 (p=0.05), and PGC1α4 (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. What this paper adds Cerebral palsy (CP) muscle contains fewer energy-generating organelles than typically developing muscle. Gene expression in CP muscle is similar to aging and long-term bed rest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1204-1212
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Medicine and Child Neurology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Mac Keith Press

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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