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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 2012798, 13 pages
Review Article

Mitochondrial Function and Mitophagy in the Elderly: Effects of Exercise

1Institute of Biomedicine (IBIOMED), University of León, León, Spain
2Institute of Biological Sciences and Health, Federal University of Viçosa-Campus Florestal, Florestal, MG, Brazil

Correspondence should be addressed to María J. Cuevas and Javier González-Gallego

Received 16 March 2017; Revised 4 June 2017; Accepted 6 July 2017; Published 16 August 2017

Academic Editor: Orlando Laitano

Copyright © 2017 Osvaldo C. Moreira et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Aging is a natural, multifactorial and multiorganic phenomenon wherein there are gradual physiological and pathological changes over time. Aging has been associated with a decrease of autophagy capacity and mitochondrial functions, such as biogenesis, dynamics, and mitophagy. These processes are essential for the maintenance of mitochondrial structural integrity and, therefore, for cell life, since mitochondrial dysfunction leads to an impairment of energy metabolism and increased production of reactive oxygen species, which consequently trigger mechanisms of cellular senescence and apoptotic cell death. Moreover, reduced mitochondrial function can contribute to age-associated disease phenotypes in model organisms and humans. Literature data show beneficial effects of exercise on the impairment of mitochondrial biogenesis and dynamics and on the decrease in the mitophagic capacity associated to aging. Thus, exercise could have effects on the major cell signaling pathways that are involved in the mitochondria quality and quantity control in the elderly. Although it is known that several exercise protocols are able to modify the activity and turnover of mitochondria, further studies are necessary in order to better identify the mechanisms of interaction between mitochondrial functions, aging, and physical activity, as well as to analyze possible factors influencing these processes.