Effects of caloric restriction and aerobic exercise on circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA in patients with moderate to severe chronic kidney disease.

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

American journal of physiology. Renal physiology


Aged; Biomarkers; Caloric Restriction; Cell-Free Nucleic Acids; DNA, Mitochondrial; Exercise; Female; Healthy Lifestyle; Humans; Inflammation Mediators; Male; Middle Aged; Oxidative Stress; Pilot Projects; Renal Insufficiency, Chronic; Severity of Illness Index; Time Factors; Treatment Outcome; United States; Up-Regulation


Circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA (ccf-mtDNA) may induce systemic inflammation, a common condition in chronic kidney disease (CKD), by acting as a damage-associated molecular pattern. We hypothesized that in patients with moderate to severe CKD, aerobic exercise would reduce ccf-mtDNA levels. We performed a post hoc analysis of a multicenter randomized trial (NCT01150851) measuring plasma concentrations of ccf-mtDNA at baseline and 2 and 4 mo after aerobic exercise and caloric restriction. A total of 99 participants had baseline ccf-mtDNA, and 92 participants completed the study. The median age of the participants was 57 yr, 44% were female and 55% were male, 23% had diabetes, and 92% had hypertension. After adjusting for demographics, blood pressure, body mass index, diabetes, and estimated glomerular filtration rate, median ccf-mtDNA concentrations at baseline, 2 mo, and 4 mo were 3.62, 3.08, and 2.78 pM for the usual activity group and 2.01, 2.20, and 2.67 pM for the aerobic exercise group, respectively. A 16.1% greater increase per month in ccf-mtDNA was seen in aerobic exercise versus usual activity (P = 0.024), which was more pronounced with the combination of aerobic exercise and caloric restriction (29.5% greater increase per month). After 4 mo of intervention, ccf-mtDNA increased in the aerobic exercise group by 81.6% (95% confidence interval: 8.2-204.8, P = 0.024) compared with the usual activity group and was more marked in the aerobic exercise and caloric restriction group (181.7% increase, 95% confidence interval: 41.1-462.2, P = 0.003). There was no statistically significant correlation between markers of oxidative stress and inflammation with ccf-mtDNA. Our data indicate that aerobic exercise increased ccf-mtDNA levels in patients with moderate to severe CKD.NEW & NOTEWORTHY The effects of prolonged exercise on circulating cell-free mitochondrial DNA (ccf-mtDNA) have not been explored in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). We showed that 4-mo aerobic exercise is associated with an increase in plasma ccf-mtDNA levels in patients with stages 3 or 4 CKD. These changes were not associated with markers of systemic inflammation. Future studies should determine the mechanisms by which healthy lifestyle interventions influence biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in patients with CKD.

Clinical Institute

Kidney & Diabetes