Coenzyme q10: A review of its promise as a neuroprotectant

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Journal: CNS Spectrums. 2007; 12(1): 62-68.

Authors and affiliation: Young AJ, Johnson S, Steffens DC, Doraiswamy PM. Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina. E-mail: young109@mc.duke.edu

[Note: The full text of this article – describing what Coenzyme Q10 is and reviewing studies offering evidence for its potential as a neuroprotector (nerve cell protector) – is available at the CNS Spectrums site. Mount Sinai School of Medicine has approved this review for physician CME (continuing medical education) credit. And the National Institutes of Health has allocated funding for a 51-center phase III trial of supplemental CoQ10 to support preservation of the nerve cells that die off in Parkinson’s disease.]

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a powerful antioxidant that buffers the potential adverse consequences of free radicals produced during oxidative phosphorylation in the inner mitochondrial membrane.

Oxidative stress, resulting in glutathione loss and oxidative DNA and protein damage, has been implicated in many neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.

Experimental studies in animal models suggest that CoQ10 may protect against neuronal damage that is produced by ischemia, atherosclerosis and toxic injury.

Though most have tended to be pilot studies, there are published preliminary clinical trials showing that CoQ10 may offer promise in many brain disorders. For example, a 16-month randomized, placebo-controlled pilot trial in 80 subjects with mild Parkinson’s disease found significant benefits for oral CoQ10 1,200 mg/day to slow functional deterioration. However, to date, there are no published clinical trials of CoQ10 in Alzheimer’s disease.

Available data suggest that oral CoQ10 seems to be relatively safe and tolerated across the range of 300-2,400 mg/day. Randomized controlled trials are warranted to confirm CoQ10’s safety and promise as a clinically effective neuroprotectant.

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