CoQ10 focus

Science searches for new CoQ10 benefits

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Coenzyme q10 Mitochondrion Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

As the science behind the understanding of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
expands, so does the list of health conditions that could
potentially benefit from supplements.

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. The formulation of the CoQ10 is reported to play a key role in its bioavailability. Since the coenzyme is lipophilic (fat-loving) its absorption is enhanced in the presence of lipids. However, when taken as a supplement apart from meals, the absorption of some formulations is lower. Trials with CoQ10 supplements in powder and oil-suspension forms are reported to result in small or negligible responses in plasma CoQ10 concentrations. According to a review of CoQ10 by Hemmi Bhagavan and Raj Chopra from Tishcon Corporation in New York (Free Radical Research, Vol. 40, pp. 445-453), solubilised formulations elicit a large response. The majority of research looking at the benefits for health conditions has focused on the cardiovascular diseases. Heart tissue contains the highest concentration of CoQ10 in the human body (about 132 nanomoles per gram), along with the kidney (77 nanomoles per gram) and the liver (64 nanomoles per gram). 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. CoQ10 concentration in the human brain is reported to be only 15.5 nanomoles per gram, a relatively low concentration that is linked to the high rate of oxidative stress in this organ. For this reason, researchers are increasingly looking at the possible protective role of CoQ10 in the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Indeed, a recent study in the journal Behavioural Brain Research (doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2006.03.009) investigated the effects of supplementation of the diets of rats suffering from brain impairment by oxidative stress, presented as a model for Alzheimer’s. The researchers reported a significant improvement in the loss of cognitive function, leading them to conclude that CoQ10 could play a role in the prevention of this disease. And this highlights an important consideration with animal studies concerning CoQ10. While rats are extensively used for preliminary tests, it should be mentioned that guinea pigs might be more reliable models. The major form of coenzyme Q in rats is CoQ9, and not CoQ10 like in humans, and guinea pigs. The benefits of CoQ10 are also being explored in relation to other conditions and diseases. Studies are emerging linking supplements of coenzyme to benefits for diabetes, cancer (breast, lung and prostate), male infertility, and kidney failure. Clinical trials looking at the effects of coenzyme Q10 are on-going around the world, with research reported in countries such as the USA, Norway and Ecuador. A list of on-going trials is presented below. Trial Phase Trial Name Intervention Condition Date of completion Location Principle Investigator I (75 subjects) Anti-Oxidant Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease Vitamin E Vitamin C Alpha-lipoic acid Coenzyme Q10 Alzheimer's Disease not available currently recruiting Multi-centre USA Douglas Galasko MD, UC, San Diego not available 101-202 subjects Coenzyme Q10 in Relieving Treatment-Related Fatigue in Women With Breast Cancer Co Q10 Vitamin E Breast cancer not available currently recruiting Multi-centre USA Glenn J. Lesser MD, Wake Forest University Comprehensive Cancer Center II (185 subjects) Clinical Trial of High Dose CoQ10 in ALS Coenzyme Q10 Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; Lou Gehrig's Disease not available (start: 04/2005) Multi-centre USA Petra Kaufmann MD, Columbia University Medical Center II (30 subjects) Study About Safety and Efficacy of Coenzyme Q10 in Progressive Supranuclear Palsy Coenzyme Q10 Progressive Supranuclear Palsy not available (start: 05/2006) Neurologische Klinik der Philipps-Universität Marburg Pr. Wolfgang Oertel III (120 subjects) CoQ10 and Prednisone in Non-Ambulatory DMD Coenzyme Q10, prednisone Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Dec. 2007 University of Pittsburgh and Children's National Medical Center, Washington DC Paula R Clemens MD, University of Pittsburgh III Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation and Development of Preeclampsia Coenzyme Q10 Preeclampsia Dec. 2006 Central University of Ecuador Enrique Teran MD IV The Effect of Q10 and Selen Supplement on Muscular Adverse Events in Statin Therapy Co Q10 Selen Statin treatment June 2007 Lipidklinikken, Rikshospitalet, Oslo, Norway Kjetil Retterstøl

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