Health Care Professional Information
2,3 dimethoxy-5 methyl-6-decaprenyl benzoquinone
Ubiquinone, ubidecarenone, ubiquinol, CoQ, CoQ10
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a naturally occurring substance used in cellular respiration and energy production in mammals. It is consumed as a dietary supplement for its antioxidant property and is often promoted as a preventive agent for cardiovascular diseases, Parkinson's disease, infertility, and cancer.
Studies done in mice indicate antioxidant and neuroprotective properties (17) (18).
CoQ10 has been shown to confer benefits in patients with coronary artery disease (2); it may also be useful in patients with congestive heart failure (21). Putative neuroprotective effects of CoQ10 have also been reported in patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (5) as well as those with early Parkinson's disease (6), but not with midstage Parkinson's disease (7). A mixture of antioxidants, including CoQ10, vitamins C, E, and lipoic acid was also found ineffective against Alzheimer's disease (20).
CoQ10 supplementation may increase sperm motility in asthenozoospermic men (8) and reduce fatigue induced by physical exertion (9).
Case reports describing efficacy for breast cancer exist (3) (4), but no controlled clinical trials have been performed. Use of CoQ10 to prevent anthracycline-induced cardiomyopathy requires additional research.
CoQ10 is structurally similar to vitamin K and therefore may antagonize the effects of warfarin (11) (12). It may also antagonize the effects of chemotherapy via antioxidant activity and may reduce the effect of radiation therapy (13).
- Cancer prevention
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chemotherapy side effects
- Congestive heart failure
- HIV and AIDS
- Migraine prophylaxis
- Parkinson's disease
- Periodontal disease
- Strength and stamina
Mechanism of Action
CoQ10 is known to have antioxidant and membrane stabilizing properties and is the only endogenously produced lipid with a redox function in mammals. All cells are capable of synthesizing CoQ10 and no redistribution between organs occurs through the blood. CoQ10 is necessary for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production. Its role as a mobile electron carrier in the mitochondrial electron-transfer processes of respiration and coupled phosphorylation is well established. It has a direct regulatory role on succinyl and NADH dehydrogenases (1). CoQ10 has been demonstrated to scavenge free radicals produced by lipid peroxidation and prevent mitochondrial deformity during episodes of ischemia, and it may have some ability to maintain the integrity of myocardial calcium ion channels during ischemic insults (2). CoQ10 appears capable of stabilizing cellular membranes and preventing depletion of metabolites required for ATP resynthesis (10).
- A study done in a mice model of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) suggests that intake of ubiquinone may reduce the effects of radiation therapy (13).
Infrequent: Nausea, diarrhea, and appetite suppression.
HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors: Endogenous levels of CoQ may be reduced by lovastatin, atorvastatin and simvastatin. The HMG-CoA reductase enzyme is responsible for catalyzing the conversion of acetyl CoA to cholesterol and synthesis of CoQ10 (14).
Warfarin: CoQ may antagonize the effects of warfarin. CoQ is structurally similar to vitamin K (11).
Theophylline: CoQ delays the clearance of theophylline, which can cause persistent vomiting, cardiac arrhythmias, and intractable seizures (19).
Literature Summary and Critique
Balercia G, Buldreghini E, Vignini A, et al. Coenzyme Q(10) treatment in infertile men with idiopathic asthenozoospermia: a placebo-controlled, double-blind randomized trial Fertil Steril. 2009 May;91(5):1785-92.
Because semen concentrations of coenzyme Q10 and ubiquinol are reduced in infertile men, this randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study of 60 infertile participants sought to determine if coenzyme Q10 supplementation (200 mg/day) for 6 months could influence fertility. Compared to placebo, coenzyme Q10 increased sperm motility, an effect that was reversed after a 3-month washout period. Participants with the lowest baseline coenzyme Q10 and ubiquinol concentrations as well as sperm motility were most likely to receive benefits of coenzyme Q10 supplementation. The authors propose that coenzyme Q10's antioxidant properties may be responsible for the increase in sperm motility; however, whether coenzyme Q10 enhances overall fertility has yet to be determined.
Dosage (Inside MSKCC Only)
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- Greenberg S, Frishman WH. Co-enzyme Q10: a new drug for cardiovascular disease. J Clin Pharmacol 1990;30:596-608.
- Tiano L, Belardinelli R, Carnevali P, Principi F, Seddaiu G, Littarru GP. Effect of coenzyme Q10 administration on endothelial function and extracellular superoxide dismutase in patients with ischaemic heart disease: a double-blind, randomized controlled study. Eur Heart J. Sep 2007;28(18):2249-2255.
- Lockwood K, et al. Partial and complete regression of breast cancer in patients in relation to dosage of coenzyme Q10. Biochem Biophys Res Comm 1994;199:1504-8.
- Lockwood K, et al. Progress on therapy of breast cancer with vitamin Q10 and the regression of metastasis. Biochem Biophys Res Comm 1995;212:172-7.
- Stamelou M, Reuss A, Pilatus U, et al. Short-term effects of coenzyme Q10 in progressive supranuclear palsy: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial.Mov Disord. May 15 2008;23(7):942-949.
- Shults CW, Oakes D, Kieburtz K, et al. Effects of coenzyme Q10 in early parkinson disease. Arch Neurol 1998;4:505-6.
- Storch A, Jost WH, Vieregge P, et al. Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on symptomatic effects of coenzyme Q(10) in Parkinson disease.Arch Neurol. Jul 2007;64(7):938-944.
- Balercia G, Buldreghini E, Vignini A, et al. Coenzyme Q(10) treatment in infertile men with idiopathic asthenozoospermia: a placebo-controlled, double-blind randomized trial. Fertil Steril. 2009 May;91(5):1785-92.
- Mizuno K, Tanaka M, Nozaki S, et al. Antifatigue effects of coenzyme Q10 during physical fatigue. Nutrition. Apr 2008;24(4):293-299.
- Dallner G, Sindelar PJ. Regulation of ubiquinone metabolism. Free Radic Biol Med 2000;29:285-94.
- Fuke C, Krikorian SA, Couris RR. Coenzyme Q10: a review of essential functions and clinical trials. US Pharmacist 2000;25:28-41.
- Shalansky S, Lynd L, Richardson K, et al. Risk of warfarin-related bleeding events and supratherapeutic international normalized ratios associated with complementary and alternative medicine: a longitudinal analysis. Pharmacotherapy 2007;27(9):1237-47.
- Lund EL, Quistorff B, Spang-Thomsen M, Kristjansen PE. Effect of radiation therapy on small-cell lung cancer is reduced by ubiquinone intake. Folia Microbiol 1998;4:505-6.
- Pronsky ZM. Power's and Moore's Food-Medication Interactions, 11th ed. Pottstown (PA): Food Medication Interactions; 2000.
- Khatta M, Alexander BS, Krichten CM, et al. The effect of coenzyme Q10 in patients with congestive heart failure. Ann Intern Med 2000;132:636-40.
- Watson PS, Scalia GM, Galbraith A, et al. Lack of effect of coenzyme Q on left ventricular function in patients with congestive heart failure. J Am Coll Cardiol 1999;33:1549-52.
- Kalayci M, Unal MM, Gul S, et al. The effect of Coenzyme Q10 on ischemia and neuronal damage in an experimental traumatic brain injury model in rats. BMC Neurosci. 2011 Jul 29;12(1):75.
- Dumont M, Kipiani K, Yu F, et al. Coenzyme Q10 Decreases Amyloid Pathology and Improves Behavior in a Transgenic Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2011 Jul 28. [Epub ahead of print]
- Baskaran R, Shanmugam S, Nagayya-Sriraman S, et al. The effect of coenzyme Q10 on the pharmacokinetic parameters of theophylline. Arch Pharm Res. 2008 Jul;31(7):938-44.
- Galasko DR, Peskind E, Clark CM, et al; for the Alzheimer's Disease Cooperative Study. Antioxidants for Alzheimer Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial With Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarker Measures. Arch Neurol. 2012 Mar 19. [Epub ahead of print]
- Fotino AD, Thompson-Paul AM, Bazzano LA. Effect of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on heart failure: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Feb;97(2):268-75.
How It Works
Bottom Line: Coenzyme Q10 has not been shown to treat or prevent cancer.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is produced naturally by all cells in the body. It is necessary for production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the “fuel” of all living cells. During periods of ischemia (lack of oxygen), such as occurs during a heart attack, CoQ10 has been shown to reduce damage to heart tissue and its mitochondria (where ATP production takes place). It is known to be an antioxidant and to stabilize cell and organelle membranes. In animal studies, coenzyme Q10 is able to neutralize free radicals, which can damage DNA and cells. However, absorption of oral coenzyme Q10 through the intestine is low. Due to its antioxidant activity, CoQ10 may interfere with the actions of certain chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy.
- As an antioxidant
Laboratory studies show that CoQ10 has antioxidant effects.
- To treat breast cancer
A few case reports describe remission of breast cancer when treated with high doses of CoQ10, but this is insufficient evidence to support this use.
- To manage cardiovascular disease
Several studies show CoQ10 improves left ventricular function and reduce hypertension. Other studies yielded negative results.
- To reduce high cholesterol
Clinical trials show inconsistent results: two indicate an increase in HDL, one shows a decrease in LDL, while two others indicate that coenzyme Q10 has no effect on LDL oxidation (which contributes to the development of atheroclerotic plaques in the blood vessels).
- To prevent cardiac toxicity from anthracyclines
One clinical trial supports this use, but additional studies are needed.
- To improve athletic performance
Clinical trials do not support this use.
- To prevent the progression of Parkinson's disease
One clinical trial showed that high doses of coenzyme Q10 slowed the progression of Parkinson's disease, but larger clinical trials are needed to support this use.
- To treat Huntington's disease
Data from a single clinical trial do not support this use.
- To treat periodontal disease (disease of the gum, teeth, and underlying bone)
One study supports this use, but additional clinical trials are needed.
Because semen concentrations of coenzyme Q10 and ubiquinol are reduced in infertile men, this randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study of 60 infertile men sought to determine if coenzyme Q10 supplementation (200 mg/day) for 6 months could influence fertility. Compared to placebo, coenzyme Q10 improved sperm motility; however, whether coenzyme Q10 can enhance overall fertility has yet to be determined.
Do Not Take If
- You are taking Warfarin (CoQ10 may lessen its effects).
- You are undergoing chemotherapy (Theoretically, because it is an antioxidant, CoQ10 may decrease the effectiveness of chemotherapy; patients should consult with their oncologist).
- You are taking Theophylline (CoQ delays the clearance of theophylline, which may cause persistent vomiting, cardiac arrhythmias, and intractable seizures).
- Loss of appetite
A study conducted in mice showed that high intake of CoQ10 reduced the effectiveness of radiation therapy against non-small cell lung cancer. Patients considering use of CoQ10 during radiation therapy should consult with their physician.
Last updated: February 11, 2013