The mitochondria-targeted antioxidant MitoQ, attenuates exercise-induced mitochondrial DNA damage

Josh Williamson, Ciara Hughes, James Cobley, Gareth Davison

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40 Citations (Scopus)
265 Downloads (Pure)


High-intensity exercise damages mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in skeletal muscle. Whether MitoQ - a redox active mitochondrial targeted quinone - can reduce exercise-induced mtDNA damage is unknown. In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled design, twenty-four healthy male participants consisting of two groups (placebo; n = 12, MitoQ; n = 12) performed an exercise trial of 4 x 4-min bouts at 90–95% of heart rate max. Participants completed an acute (20 mg MitoQ or placebo 1-h pre-exercise) and chronic (21 days of supplementation) phase. Blood and skeletal muscle were sampled immediately pre- and post-exercise and analysed for nuclear and mtDNA damage, lipid hydroperoxides, lipid soluble antioxidants, and the ascorbyl free radical. Exercise significantly increased nuclear and mtDNA damage across lymphocytes and muscle (P < 0.05), which was accompanied with changes in lipid hydroperoxides, ascorbyl free radical, and α-tocopherol (P < 0.05). Acute MitoQ treatment failed to impact any biomarker likely due to insufficient initial bioavailability. However, chronic MitoQ treatment attenuated nuclear (P < 0.05) and mtDNA damage in lymphocytes and muscle tissue (P < 0.05). Our work is the first to show a protective effect of chronic MitoQ supplementation on the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes in lymphocytes and human muscle tissue following exercise, which is important for genome stability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101673
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalRedox Biology
Early online date6 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Sept 2020


  • Redox Biology
  • DNA Damage
  • Exercise


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