Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Research Notes and BioMed Central.

Open Access Short Report

The effect of 5-aminolevulinic acid on cytochrome c oxidase activity in mouse liver

Shun-ichiro Ogura1*, Kouji Maruyama2, Yuichiro Hagiya1, Yuta Sugiyama1, Kyoko Tsuchiya3, Kiwamu Takahashi3, Fuminori Abe3, Kenji Tabata1, Ichiro Okura1, Motowo Nakajima3 and Tohru Tanaka3

Author Affiliations

1 Endowed Research Section (ALA), Frontier Research Center, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Yokohama, Japan

2 Shizuoka Cancer Center Research Institute, Shizuoka, Japan

3 SBI ALApromo Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:66  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-66

Published: 17 March 2011



5-Aminolevulinic acid (ALA) is a precursor of heme that is fundamentally important in aerobic energy metabolism. Among the enzymes involved in aerobic energy metabolism, cytochrome c oxidase (COX) is crucial. In this study, the effect of ALA on cytochrome c oxidase activity was measured.


c57BL/6N species of mice were administered ALA orally for 15 weeks. After ALA administration, mice were sacrificed and livers were obtained. COX activity in mitochondria from ALA-administered mouse livers was 1.5-fold higher than that in mitochondria from PBS-administered mouse livers (P < 0.05). Furthermore, ATP levels in ALA-administered mouse livers were much higher than those in PBS-administered mouse livers. These data suggest that oral administration of ALA promotes aerobic energy metabolism, especially COX activity.


This is the first report of a drug that functions in aerobic energy metabolism directly. Since COX activity is decreased in various diseases and aging, the pharmacological effects of ALA will be expanding.