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Coenzyme Q10 Does Not Improve Parkinsons Disease Symptoms

Small doses of the antioxidant coenzyme Q10 appear to increase blood levels of this naturally occurring compound in patients with Parkinsons disease , but does not improve Parkinsons disease symptoms, according to a study.

Parkinsons disease is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by tremors and difficulty with walking or other movements. The biological mechanisms underlying the condition are not fully understood, but researchers suspect a malfunction of the mitochondria, parts of the cells that help convert food to energy, according to background information in the article. Coenzyme (CoQ10), an antioxidant sold as a dietary supplement, is also involved in mitochondrial processes. Because of these functions, CoQ10 has attracted attention concerning neuroprotective actions in neurodegenerative disorders linked to mitochondrial defects or oxidative [oxygen-related] stress, such as Huntingtons disease and Parkinsons disease, the authors write. Previous studies indicate that high doses of CoQ10 (1,200 milligrams) may slow the deterioration associated with Parkinsons disease.

Alexander Storch, M.D., of the Technical University of Dresden, Germany, and colleagues conducted a randomized clinical trial of a 300-milligram dose of CoQ10 in 131 patients with Parkinsons disease who did not have changes in motor functions and were on stable treatment for their condition. Those assigned to the treatment group took 100 milligrams of CoQ10 three times daily for three months, followed by a two-month washout period. The researchers assessed Parkinsons disease symptoms before treatment began, each month during treatment and again after the washout period. Blood tests were performed at the beginning of the study, after three months of treatment and after the washout period.

A total of 106 patients completed the full three months of the study55 in the CoQ10 group and 51 in the placebo group. The compound was well tolerated overall, and the percentage of patients who experienced adverse effectsincluding viral infection, diarrhea and hearing lossdid not differ between the two groups. Blood levels of CoQ10 increased in the treatment group from an average of 0.99 milligrams per liter to an average of 4.46 milligrams per liter after three months.

Although we demonstrated a significant increase in plasma levels of CoQ10 toward levels observed with high doses of standard CoQ10 formulations in Parkinsons disease and other disorders, our study failed to show improvement of Parkinsons disease symptoms and did not meet its primary or secondary end points, which were changes on scales that measured Parkinsons disease symptoms and their effects on physical and mental functioning, the authors write. Our study further demonstrated that 300 milligrams per day of nanoparticular CoQ10 is safe and well tolerated in patients with Parkinsons disease already taking various antiparkinsonian medications.

Since we did not find symptomatic effects of CoQ10 in Parkinsons disease, our study does not support the hypothesis that restoring the impaired energy metabolism of the diseased dopaminergic neurons leads to symptomatic benefits in Parkinsons disease, the authors conclude. Future studies will need to explore the protective effects of CoQ10 at the highest effective dose (equivalent to about 2,400 milligrams per day of a standard formulation) over a long treatment period and in a large cohort of patients both sufficient to clearly define the protective potential of this compound in Parkinsons disease.


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