Skeletal muscle mitochondrial energetics are associated with maximal aerobic capacity and walking speed in older adults

Paul M. Coen, Sharon A. Jubrias, Giovanna Distefano, Francesca Amati, Dawn C. Mackey, Nancy W. Glynn, Todd M. Manini, Stephanie E. Wohlgemuth, Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, Steven R. Cummings, Anne B. Newman, Luigi Ferrucci, Frederico G S Toledo, Eric Shankland, Kevin E. Conley, Bret H. Goodpaster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Scopus citations


Background.Lower ambulatory performance with aging may be related to a reduced oxidative capacity within skeletal muscle. This study examined the associations between skeletal muscle mitochondrial capacity and efficiency with walking performance in a group of older adults.Methods.Thirty-seven older adults (mean age 78 years; 21 men and 16 women) completed an aerobic capacity (VO 2 peak) test and measurement of preferred walking speed over 400 m. Maximal coupled (State 3; St3) mitochondrial respiration was determined by high-resolution respirometry in saponin-permeabilized myofibers obtained from percutanous biopsies of vastus lateralis (n = 22). Maximal phosphorylation capacity (ATPmax) of vastus lateralis was determined in vivo by 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy (n = 30). Quadriceps contractile volume was determined by magnetic resonance imaging. Mitochondrial efficiency (max ATP production/max O2 consumption) was characterized using ATPmax per St3 respiration (ATPmax/St3).Results.In vitro St3 respiration was significantly correlated with in vivo ATPmax (r2 =. 47, p =. 004). Total oxidative capacity of the quadriceps (St3*quadriceps contractile volume) was a determinant of VO2 peak (r2 =. 33, p =. 006). ATPmax (r2 =. 158, p =. 03) and VO2 peak (r2 =. 475, p max/St3 and VO2 peak in a multiple linear regression model improved the prediction of preferred walking speed (r2 =. 647, p

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-455
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Mitochondria
  • Muscle
  • Walking speed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Medicine(all)


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