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mitochondria fit & well


Diagnosis of mitochondrial functions and mitochondrial injuries

Diagnosis of mitochondrial functions and mitochondrial injuries represents a current challenge for biomedical research and development. We address these challenges by introducing and extending the approach of cell ergometry as the state-of-the-art functional test of mitochondrial competence. MitoFit establishes an inter-university Network in Mitochondrial Physiology and Comprehensive Exercise Testing, supporting translational research on mitochondrial competence in close collaboration with the local industry and other networks, e.g. Oncotyrol. Mitochondrial fitness will play an increasing role in therapeutic and preventive medicine, with exercise and caloric balance providing the most effective measures for the reduction of several age-related health risks and degenerative diseases. MitoFit is a gateway and milestone to better diagnose, support and treat patients in our modern, rapidly ageing society.
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» OROBOROS MitoFit Laboratory
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Johannes Burtscher, Patrick Schaefer, Luiz Felipe Garcia e Souza, Pablo Garcia-Roves, Enrico Calzia, Stephen Dozier, Ignazio Prieto, Verena Laner, Erich Gnaiger, Devin Manning, Pedro Neves at the MitoFit Science Camp in July 2016 in Kuehtai, Tyrol, Austria
» MitoFit Science Camp 2016 Kuehtai AT
» COST Action approved: MITOEAGLE
  • MitoFit quality control - new on MitoPedia
  1. MitoPedia: Sample preparations
  2. MitoPedia: SUIT
» Making a molecular map of exercise - NIH Common Fund


A physically active and nutritionally healthy life style induces regulatory mechanisms that maintain aerobic performance and support functional mitochondrial competence. Even in advancing age, exercise increases aerobic fitness and maintains muscle mitochondrial density above the sedentary benchmark, contributing to the high quality of life characteristic of alpine regions such as Tyrol. Functional mitochondrial competence and aerobic fitness reduce several age-related health risks, including cardiovascular and degenerative diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s), and several types of cancer. As a result of a sedentary life style and progression to obesity, the decline of muscle mitochondrial capacity may contribute to accelerated ageing processes and development of degenerative diseases. Diagnostic evaluation of functional mitochondrial competence requires scientific and technological mitochondrial competence. MitoFit fit&well will combine the specialized scientific focus on mitochondrial research and exercise testing with the expertise of local companies of world-wide leadership in this expanding field. Beyond the added value emanating from the combination and coordination of these diagnostic elements, the consortium will collaborate on the implementation of refined and novel diagnostic protocols as a milestone towards an internationally recognized centre of excellence, with an explicit focus on sport and clinical perspectives to address mitochondrial health and disease.
MitoFit Science Camp in July 2016 in Kuehtai, Tyrol, Austria: If muscle mitochondrial adaptations occur in response to high altitude is answered in a presentation by Adam Chicco, one of over 60 participants of the MitoFit Science Camp


MitoFit combines the expertise of experienced partners in a unique corporate framework. MitoFit will establish a research and diagnostic laboratory network to form a Centre of Excellence in Mitochondrial Physiology, Pathology, Comprehensive Exercise Testing, and Genetic Fingerprinting. Diagnostic analyses include cardiopulmonary (VO2max; CPX) and metabolic (31P-NMR; Ergospect) exercise testing, evaluation of mitochondrial performance (high-resolution respirometry; OROBOROS INSTRUMENTS), and genetic screening (mtDNA haplotypes, relevant nuclear encoded genes). Refined state-of-the-art diagnostic protocols are extended and evaluated in a training programme under acute high-altitude hypoxia versus normoxic conditions with healthy control subjects. Exposure to acute hypoxia represents a typical condition for millions of individuals annually skiing or mountaineering in Austria and particularly in Tyrol. Comprehensive mitochondrial and exercise testing protocols will be developed and validated in these studies. Case studies will translate the scientific expertise into the clinical setting. As a result, MitoFit will offer and apply these diagnostic services for (i) monitoring of training programmes in competitive athletes, (ii) life style analyses of the general population, (iii) exercise interventions for preventive and therapeutic medicine, and (iv) clinical diagnosis of individual patients.

Technological and scientific innovation

Diagnosis of mitochondrial function has advanced to a new technological level by the introduction of high-resolution respirometry, and on a scientific level of innovation by multiple substrate-uncoupler-inhibitor titration protocols with permeabilized fibres from small muscle biopsies. Nevertheless, compared to the small needle biopsy, functional mt-diagnosis on far less invasive blood samples (thrombocytes) might provide a new perspective for large-scale screening of individual athletes, extended cohorts in clinical studies, and application for individual patients. Simultaneous measurement of mitochondrial respiration and additional parameters (mt-membrane potential by ion selective electrodes, hydrogen peroxide production by spectrofluorimetry coupled to the O2k) requires the development of new diagnostic protocols that can be applied to permeabilized muscle fibres and/or intact and permeabilized thrombocytes. Although conventional cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPX) provides insights into the coupling of external to cellular respiration, it mirrors insufficiently the metabolic processes in the contracting and recovering muscle. Thus, combining CPX and techniques assessing bioenergetic processes in the working muscles will undoubtedly increase the conclusiveness of exercise testing in athletes and patients. These diagnostic MultiSensor protocols in combination with comprehensive exercise testing and genetic fingerprinting will generate an innovative repertoire of diagnostic tests that can be offered in the context of sports and mitochondrial diseases.

From MitoCom to MitoFit – 2020 m and above

MitoFit Science Camp in July 2016 in Kuehtai, Tyrol, Austria: Martin Burtscher trying to answer the question whether living and exercising at moderate altitude is health risk or even benefit
Join those who seek the special recreational and adventurous experience with physical exercise in the alps. Your exercise is the gateway to your mitochondrial fitness.
MitoFit evolves as a unique network of practitioners in the high-end sector of recreation, sport and protective medicine, in collaboration with experts on mitochondrial physiology and mitochondrial medicine.
We all know that feeling of being well from head to toe – or from muscle to brain – up in the mountains. Scientists want to get to the basis of this wellbeing, to gain insights into invisible molecular functions: is it caused by the ’good air‘ we breathe, even though air gets very thin high up in the Alps? How do the lungs, blood, heart, brain, arms and legs – all organs and all somatic cells – react to altitude and relaxation in nature, to challenges in sport or to a short period of life on a mountain pasture?
Mitochondria are responsible for the energy supply in human and animal tissues; this is cell ergometry, cell respiration – mitochondrial oxygen consumption. With the OROBOROS O2k, we determine energy turnover of carbohydrates and fatty acids and quantify the efficiency of mitochondria in maintaining the vital body functions. In order to determine cellular fitness, parameters for oxidative stress and stress resistance are measured along with mitochondrial oxygen consumption. Biomedical research all over the world applies this method for the diagnosis of mitochondrial competence, especially in sports medicine and gerontology. The O2k, developed by the company OROBOROS INSTRUMENTS, is the world-wide leading instrument for diagnosing the aerobic capacity of mitochondria with the help of small samples of tissue or blood. OROBOROS INSTRUMENTS is located in Innsbruck, Austria. In the Mitochondrial Research Laboratory, the company tests the newest developments and develops standard protocols in cell ergometry.

The logo of MitoCom Tyrol (now transformed to MitoFit) is based on MiPArt by Odra Noel. Further details: »MitoCom O2k-Fluorometer.

Impact on life style: Tyrol – a heart for sport

Mitochondrial knowledge will, with its innovative approach, arouse a new awareness of preventive medicine, to which a physically active and calorie-balanced lifestyle can contribute significantly. Of particular importance is “healthy aging”, a generally improved quality of life and a reduced risk of a multiplicity of degenerative diseases influenced by the mitochondria: e.g. obesity, diabetes 2, various forms of cancer and dementias. Mitochondrial competence will be made a reality to a larger proportion of the population and the regional identity strengthened both amongst our own population and amongst tourists through the offer of exercise-orientated leisure packages in the Alpine landscape of Tyrol.
Instrumental innovation and interdisciplinary cooperation in mitochondrial physiology lead to new perspectives of functional mitochondrial diagnosis. Check your mitochondrial health is conveyed to the public as a keyword for taking care of a physically active life style as an invaluable component of preventive and therapeutic medicine.
Linkages are being created by MitoFit between research and clinical/practical needs with regard to the very recently established Olympic centre at the Institute of Sport Science of the LFU in Innsbruck and the Altitude Training Centre in Kühtai near Innsbruck leading to optimization of diagnostic exercise testing and training strategies. Importantly, this project seeks to promote research on exercise effects at moderate altitude. Tyrol represents a unique location which is visited by several millions of skiers and mountaineers, annually. On the one hand, regular physical activity and probably also exposures to moderate altitudes up to about 2500 m may contribute to well-being and longevity. On the other hand, however, unaccustomed exercise and acute altitude exposure may trigger serious cardiovascular adverse events in subjects at risk. This initiative should contribute to a better understanding of mechanisms responsible for beneficial and adverse effects supporting the development of appropriate preventive measures.
Appreciation by politicians and communication with an aspirational general public are essential to benefit from world-class research, for comprehensive mitochondrial and exercise testing and implementation of exercise as a medicine, and the development of a scientific foundation that may allow us to translate the complex diagnostic results into a patient-related mitochondrial score. The MitoFit network will emphasize the connections to international mitochondrial networks, for exchange of expertise and standardization of diagnostic approaches, in a joint effort to helping mitochondrial patients, preventing numerous diseases and making a difference to society.

K-Regio MitoFit

See also

Bioblasts - Richard Altmann and MiPArt by Odra Noel
Bioblast         MitoPedia         Terms and abbreviations         Concepts and methods         High-resolution respirometry         MiP and biochemistry




MitoFit establishes an inter-university Network in Mitochondrial Physiology and Comprehensive Exercise Testing, supporting translational research on mitochondrial competence in close collaboration with the local industry and other networks, e.g. Oncotyrol.

Abbreviation: MitoFit

Reference: MitoFit



MitoGlobal - the world-wide network of mitochondrial research and medicine

MitoGlobal provides a world-wide platform for societies and organizations supporting mitochondrial research and medicine.

MitoGlobal is moderated by the international MiPsociety.

MitoPedia topics: MitoGlobal Organizations