- Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutator mice express a mutated form of mtDNA polymerase gamma that results an accelerated accumulation of somatic mtDNA mutations in association with a premature aging phenotype. An exploratory metabolomic analysis of cortical metabolites in sedentary and exercised mtDNA mutator mice and wild-type littermate controls at 9-10 months of age was performed. Pathway analysis revealed deficits in the neurotransmitters acetylcholine, glutamate, and aspartate that were ameliorated by exercise. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) depletion and evidence of increased poly(adenosine diphosphate-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1)activity were apparent in sedentary mtDNA mutator mouse cortex, along with deficits in carnitine metabolites and an upregulated antioxidant response that largely normalized with exercise. These data highlight specific pathways that are altered in the brain in association with an accelerated age-related accumulation of somatic mtDNA mutations. These results may have relevance to age-related neurodegenerative diseases associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease and provide insights into potential mechanisms of beneficial effects of exercise on brain function.