Supplements of co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) may improve the motility and density of sperm in infertile men, according to a new study using Kaneka’s ingredient.
The statistically significant but modest results suggest that CoQ10 may have “potential clinical applications in infertile men”, wrote Mohammad Reza Safarinejad from Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, Iran in the peer-reviewed Journal of Urology.
The researcher called for further prospective studies to evaluate if CoQ10 supplementation may play a role in achieving pregnancy in infertile couples.
CoQ10 has properties similar to vitamins, but since it is naturally synthesized in the body it is not classed as such. With chemical structure 2,3-dimethoxy-5-methyl-6-decaprenyl-1,4-benzoquinone, it is also known as ubiquinone because of its 'ubiquitous' distribution throughout the human body.
The coenzyme is concentrated in the mitochondria - the 'power plants' of the cell - and plays a vital role in the production of chemical energy by participating in the production of adenosince triphosphate (ATP), the body's co-called 'energy currency'.
A role beyond the mitochondria is also acknowledged, with CoQ10 acting as a potent antioxidant. The coenzyme plays an important role in preserving levels of vitamin E and vitamin C.
There is an ever-growing body of scientific data that shows substantial health benefits of CoQ10 supplementation for people suffering from angina, heart attack and hypertension. Clinical trials have also reported benefits for cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure.
Sperm quality has been linked to the level of oxidative stress, and in order to test if CoQ10 levels might beneficially effect sperm quality, Safarinejad recruited 212 infertile men and randomly assigned them to receive a daily CoQ10 supplement (300 mg, Kaneka, Japan) or placebo for 26 weeks. This was followed by 30 weeks with no intervention.
The Tehran-based researchers reported a significant improvement in both sperm density and motility following supplements of the coenzyme. A positive association was also found with regards to sperm count. Further analysis showed an increase in the percent of normal forms of sperm, added Safarinejad.
Finally, an increase in the acrosome reaction of over 100 per cent was observed in the CoQ10 group, compared to a 1 per cent increase in the placebo group. The acrosome reaction aids in egg penetration, and subsequently fertilisation.
“Coenzyme Q10 supplementation resulted in a statistically significant improvement in certain semen parameters,” wrote Safarinejad. “However, further studies are needed to draw a final conclusion and evaluate the effect of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on the pregnancy rate.”
No improvements in pregnancy levels were observed between the groups during the intervention period, said Safarinejad.
“Sperm motility was 27.6 per ml in the CoQ10 group and 23.1 per ml in the placebo group, which may not be clinically relevant,” he added. “The two values are far from the recommended normal value for sperm motility (motility 50 per cent or greater with forward progression). In addition, at the 26-week treatment phase mean total sperm count in the CoQ10 group was less than 60 million.”
“To our knowledge whether a longer treatment trial or higher doses might have resulted in better findings has yet to be identified.”
Source: The Journal of Urology
Volume 182, Issue 1, Pages 237-248
“Efficacy of Coenzyme Q10 on Semen Parameters, Sperm Function and Reproductive Hormones in Infertile Men”
Authors: M.R. Safarinejad