A physiological drop in pH decreases mitochondrial respiration, and HDAC and Akt signaling, in L6 myocytes

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

American Journal of Physiology


NLM (Medline)


School of Medical and Health Sciences



Grant Number

ARC Number : DP140104165

Grant Link



Genders, A. J., Martin, S. D., McGee, S. L., & Bishop, D. J. (2019). A physiological drop in pH decreases mitochondrial respiration, and HDAC and akt signaling, in L6 myocytes. American Journal of Physiology. Cell Physiology, 316(3), C404-C414. Available here.


Exercise stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis and increases mitochondrial respiratory function and content. However, during high-intensity exercise muscle pH can decrease below pH 6.8 with a concomitant increase in lactate concentration. This drop in muscle pH is associated with reduced exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis, while increased lactate may act as a signaling molecule to affect mitochondrial biogenesis. Therefore, in this study we wished to determine the impact of altering pH and lactate concentration in L6 myotubes on genes and proteins known to be involved in mitochondrial biogenesis. We also examined mitochondrial respiration in response to these perturbations. Differentiated L6 myotubes were exposed to normal (pH 7.5)-, low (pH 7.0)-, or high (pH 8.0)-pH media with and without 20 mM sodium l-lactate for 1 and 6 h. Low pH and 20 mM sodium l-lactate resulted in decreased Akt (Ser473) and AMPK (T172) phosphorylation at 1 h compared with controls, while at 6 h the nuclear localization of histone deacetylase 5 (HDAC5) was decreased. When the pH was increased both Akt (Ser473) and AMPK (T172) phosphorylation was increased at 1 h. Overall increased lactate decreased the nuclear content of HDAC5 at 6 h. Exposure to both high- and low-pH media decreased basal mitochondrial respiration, ATP turnover, and maximum mitochondrial respiratory capacity. These data indicate that muscle pH affects several metabolic signaling pathways, including those required for mitochondrial function.



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