Lab animals released into a water maze were observed to swim to the safe platform with greater efficiency if their diets were supplemented with a high dose of CoQ10 (2.81 mg of CoQ10 per gram of diet), according to findings published in Age .
The study, performed by scientists from the University of North Texas Health Science Center, builds on earlier results from the same group in younger animals , which found that prolonged, high-dose CoQ10 may increase the loss of cognitive function associated with aging.
“Contrasting with the deleterious effect of long-term CoQ supplementation initiated during young adulthood previously published, this study suggests that CoQ improves spatial learning and attenuates oxidative damage when administered in relatively high doses and delayed until early senescence, after age-related declines have occurred,” wrote the researchers, led by Ritu Shetty.
“Thus, in individuals with age-associated symptoms of cognitive decline, high-CoQ intake may be beneficial.”
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'.
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. The nutrient is also recommended to people on statins to off-set the CoQ-depleting effects of the medication. Other studies have reported that CoQ10 may play a role in the prevention or benefit people already suffering from neurodegenerative diseases.
The Texas-based scientists investigated if CoQ10 supplementation, initiated relatively late in life, would beneficially impact mild functional impairments associated with normal brain aging.
Lab mice aged 17.5 months, which is considered relatively old for such animals, were fed a control diet or the same diet with supplemental CoQ10 at a low (0.72 mg/g) or high (2.81 mg/g) dose for 15 weeks.
The animals were given the Morris water maze after six weeks, and the control diet-fed animals already showed signs of age-related impairments in cognitive and psychomotor functions. Similar effects were also seen in the low dose CoQ10 group.
However, animals fed the high dose CoQ10 diet were found to be more efficient at swimming to the safe platform , compared to the control animals.
On the other hand, no significant improvements were observed in other tests of behavioral performance.
Biochemical analyses showed a decrease in protein oxidative damage in the mitochondria from the heart, liver, and skeletal muscle of the animals consuming the high dose CoQ10 diet. Similar, but lower, effects were observed in the brain mitochondria, added the researchers.
Volume 35, Number 5, Pages 1821-1834. doi: 10.1007/s11357-012-9484-9
“Coenzyme Q10 supplementation reverses age-related impairments in spatial learning and lowers protein oxidation”
Authors: R.A. Shetty, M.J. Forster, N. Sumien