Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) may be the most important nutrient you've never heard of.
Don't feel bad if you don't know what PQQ is, though, because many healthcare professionals probably aren't familiar with it either.
It's only in the past decade that scientists have begun to understand this essential nutrient’s importance to human life.
PQQ might be described as a defender and protector of the body's energy-generating mitochondria. Based on emerging research, it is:
• A highly effective antioxidant, many times more efficient in sustaining mitochrondrial energy production than other, commonly used antioxidant compounds.
• Virtually unique in its ability to stimulate the growth of fresh, new mitochondria.
• And a well-documented means of promoting improved memory, concentration, and mental alertness - especially taken in combination with coenzyme Q10.
PQQ: What Is It?
Between 1910 and 1948, 13 essential vitamins were discovered and are currently recognized universally. For the next 30 years, the family of vitamins was thought to be complete – until PQQ was discovered in 1979.
As investigators studied this newly-discovered nutrient, found in many foods such as tofu, green tea and spinach, it became apparent that PQQ was essential for good health. But it wasn’t until 2003 that Japanese scientists discovered its biochemical role in the lysine degradation process, and proposed it may belong to the B vitamin complex.(1)
PQQ and Mitochondrial Health
Mitochondria are the energy producers of the cells. They work much like the engine of a car. What is a car without its engine? Just a big, inert hunk of metal. Similarly, without mitochondria, the cells in your body would not be able to do anything. Your heart would not beat; your lungs would not breathe; your brain would cease to function. Mitochondria are essential to life itself.
As you might expect, since proper mitochondrial function is so critical for health and life, mitochondrial dysfunction plays a significant part in many types of illnesses, including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), type 2 diabetes, heart failure, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. And many cell biologists believe the quantity and function of mitochondria are key determinants of longevity.(2-4)
Now you're probably wondering what PQQ has to do with our mitochondria. As it turns out, quite a lot.
A series of in-vivo studies found that when mice are deprived of dietary PQQ, they have fewer mitochondria in their tissues. They also exhibited stunted growth, compromised immunity, and impaired reproductive capability. In addition, the survival rates of juvenile mice were significantly reduced in the absence of PQQ.(5-7)
Why is PQQ so important for mitochondrial health? Because our mitochondria are extremely vulnerable to damage and destruction from free radicals, and PQQ is a super-powerful antioxidant with formidable free-radical scavenging capabilities. It is also an exceptionally stable molecule that is able to do its work successfully without breaking down.
According to a University of California at Davis study, PQQ is 30 to 5,000 times more efficient in sustaining mitochondrial energy production than the other common antioxidant compounds most people rely on, like ascorbic acid.(8)
If you think PQQ's ability to support and protect existing mitochondria sounds impressive, just wait – PQQ is able to perform an even more impressive feat.
In 2010, researchers discovered that PQQ actually stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis – the growth of fresh, new mitochondria! (9)
This was a huge discovery. Up until then, the only natural ways known to stimulate the growth of new mitochondria were long-term and sustained calorie restriction or strenuous physical activity – both of which were far too rigorous and impractical for most aging or ill individuals.
Supporting Reversal of Cognitive Decline
As we get older, most of us start experiencing some memory loss and cognitive functioning difficulties – evidence of the increased toll free radicals and oxidative stress are taking on our mitochondria. In one study, researchers found evidence of 50% more mitochondrial damage in the brain cells of people over 70 compared to those in middle-aged individuals.(10)
Although that finding was not encouraging, there is good news. According to a 2007 scientific review in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, age-related mitochondrial dysfunction can be reversed.(11)
When it comes to improving cognitive function and reversing mitochondrial dysfunction, PQQ and CoQ10 could aptly be called the dynamic duo.
While CoQ10 works to support optimum mitochondrial function, PQQ is busy encouraging the activation of genes that trigger mitochondrial reproduction, protection and repair.
A 2009 clinical trial in Japan clearly demonstrated this synergy. Middle-aged and elderly people who were given 20 mg per day of PQQ showed improvement in tests of higher cognitive function. However, the improvements were significantly amplified when the subjects also took 300 mg of CoQ10 each day. The researchers concluded that 20 mg of PQQ plus 300 mg of CoQ10 daily may support reversal of age-related cognitive decline in aging humans.(12)
Neuroprotective Effect in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Diseases
Mitochondrial dysfunction is thought to be linked to age-related diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. And an increasing body of evidence indicates that PQQ may be an effective intervention for Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
Both diseases are triggered by an accumulation of abnormal proteins which initiate a cascade of oxidative damage that results in brain cell death. Studies have revealed that PQQ helps the body to:
• Prevent development of the protein alpha-synuclein, which is associated with Parkinson’s disease.(13)
• Prevent the formation of amyloid-beta molecular structures associated with Alzheimer's disease.(14)
• Protect nerve cells from the oxidizing ravages of the amyloid-beta protein linked with Alzheimer’s disease.(15)
PQQ – Looking to the Future
It appears that scientists are just beginning to scratch the surface of the benefits PQQ may provide. In several animal studies, PQQ has shown great promise in supporting a reduction of the damage from heart attack, stroke and spinal cord injury.
For example, a 2006 study using rats actually found PQQ to be superior to the well known prescription beta-blocker metoprolol in supporting reduced oxidative damage after a heart attack. Supplementation with PQQ was associated with a reduced area of cardiac tissue death and improved overall cardiac function.(16)
It's going to be exciting to watch and see what other as-yet-unknown health benefits PQQ may hold.
ProHealth's ProMito PQQ™
ProMito PQQ is a unique nutrient blend which combines PQQ with Alpha GPC (alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine) to support enhanced memory retention and promote improved mental processing.
Alpha GPC is a pro-phospholipid that delivers the essential nutrient choline to the brain. A meta-analysis of 10 clinical trials evaluating Alpha GPC and its effectiveness in helping dementia-related symptoms found that patients taking Alpha GPC had consistently improved scores on a wide variety of memory and attention span tests.(17)
In short, numerous studies suggest these two novel ingredients – PQQ and Alpha GPC – promote neurological health and support improved memory retention and mental acuity. A benefit that may be further enhanced with a daily regimen that also includes coenzyme Q10.
Each veggie capsule of ProHealth's ProMito PQQ contains 20 mg PQQ and 50 mg Alpha GPC. One capsule per day should be sufficient for most purposes, or as advised by your healthcare professional. No adverse side effects are known when it is used appropriately.
PQQ is an essential nutrient that not only protects and defends our existing mitochondria but is also able to stimulate the growth of fresh new mitochondria. Numerous studies have demonstrated PQQ's ability to support a reversal of cognitive decline and promote improved memory, concentration and mental alertness, especially when taken with coenzyme Q10.
* Supplement research reporter Karen Lee Richards is Lead Expert specializing in Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS for HealthCentral’s chronic pain site (www.healthcentral.com/chronic-pain)
1. Kasahara, T. (2003). Nutritional biochemistry: A new redox-cofactor vitamin for mammals. Nature, 2003 April 24;422:832.
Download full text: http://www.brain.riken.jp/labs/mdmd/pqq/pqq-in-nature.pdf
2. Lanza IR, Nair KS. Full text: Mitochondrial function as a determinant of life span. Pflugers Arch. 2010 Jan;459(2):277-89.
3. Robb EL, Page MM, Stuart JA. Mitochondria, cellular stress resistance, somatic cell depletion and lifespan. Curr Aging Sci. 2009 Mar;2(1):12-27.
4. Alexeyev MF, LeDoux SP, Wilson GL. Mitochondrial DNA and aging. Clin Sci (Lond). 2004 Oct;107(4):355-64.
5. Stites T, Storms D, Bauerly K, et al. Full text: Pyrroloquinoline quinone modulates mitochondrial quantity and function in mice. J Nutr. 2006 Feb;136(2):390-6.
6. Steinberg F, Stites TE, Anderson P, et al. Full text: Pyrroloquinoline quinone improves growth and reproductive performance in mice fed chemically defined diets. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2003 Feb;228(2):160-6.
7. Bauerly KA, Storms DH, Harris CB, et al. Pyrroloquinoline quinone nutritional status alters lysine metabolism and modulates mitochondrial DNA content in the mouse and rat. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006 Nov;1760(11):1741-8.
8. Stites, TE; Mitchell, AE; Rucker, RB (2000). Full text: Physiological importance of quinoenzymes and the O-quinone family of cofactors. The Journal of Nutrition 130 (4): 719–27.
9. Chowanadisai W, et al. Full text: Pyrroloquinoline quinone stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis through cAMP response element-binding protein phosphorylation and increased PGC-1 alpha expression. J Biol Chem. 2010 Jan 1;285:142-52.
10. Mecocci P, et al. Oxidative damage to mitochondrial DNA shows marked age-dependent increases in human brain. Ann Neurol. 1993 Oct;34(4):609-16.
11. Conley KE, et al. Mitochondrial dysfunction and age. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. Nov 2007;10(6):688-692.
12. Nakano M, et al. [Effect of pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) on mental status of middle-aged and elderly persons.] FOOD Style 21. 2009;13(7):50-3. (Article in Japanese; referenced in English-language literature.)
13. Kobayashi M, et al. Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) prevents fibril formation of alpha-synuclein. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Oct 27;349(3):1139-44.
14. Kim J, et al. Full text: Pyrroloquinoline quinone inhibits the fibrillation of amyloid proteins. Prion. 2010 Jan;4(1):26-31.
15. Zhang JJ, et al. Protective effect of pyrroloquinoline quinone against Abeta-induced neurotoxicity in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells. Neurosci Lett. 2009 Oct 30;464(3):165-9.
16. Zhu BQ, et al. Comparison of pyrroloquinoline quinone and/or metoprolol on myocardial infarct size and mitochondrial damage in a rat model of ischemia/reperfusion injury. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2006 Jun;11(2):119-28.
17. Pametti L, et al. Choline alphoscerate in cognitive decline and in acute cerebrovascular disease: an analysis of published clinical data. Mech Ageing Dev. 2001 Nov;122(16):2041-55.
Note: This information has not been reviewed by the FDA. It is for general information purposes, is not meant to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any illness, condition or disease, and must not take the place of a physician's attention and advice. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and reviewing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.