Energizing the Body's Cells
The benefits of regular exercise for the human body are well known as they relate to cardiovascular health, burning fat and strengthening muscles. It is also understood that regular exercise can generate mitochondria, the components of human cells that produce about 90 percent of the cellular energy (ATP) requirements. This is significant because when mitochondrial content is low in a cell or if dysfunction exists - as in mitochondrial disease - ATP synthesis is reduced and cell survival is compromised. Although the positive benefits of regular physical activity on the synthesis of mitochondria within muscle cells are well established, a large number of questions exist regarding the mechanisms through which mitochondrial biogenesis occurs.
Dr. David Hood believes these questions are essential from both a basic science point of view and because the answers will enhance the understanding of the basis for an increasing number of mitochondrially-based disorders, in addition to understanding the role of regular exercise in reversing mitochondrial disease and/or cell death (apoptosis).
It is well recognized that many diseases - including muscular, neurological, metabolic and heart diseases - have origins based on mitochondrial dysfunction, due to a defect in respiration and ATP production.
Dr. Hood's lab is unique in that it is devoted to understanding both the molecular aspects of exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle and the direct application of exercise to the understanding and amelioration of mitochondrial disorders and mitochondrially- driven cell death.
His research program has six objectives over a five-year period, including the investigation of nuclear and mitochondrial gene transcription, the mechanisms of protein transport into mitochondria, understanding the types of signals contracting muscles send, an evaluation of how exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis affects cell death, and the development of a collaborative group on skeletal muscle health.