Women receiving 200 mg of CoQ10 a day had a 10 per cent lower risk of developing pre-eclampsia than women on placebo, according to results of the randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Researchers from the Central University of Ecuador and the Hospital Gineco Obstetrico Isidro Ayora report their findings in the International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics.
“CoQ10 supplementation starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy appears to be a safe and well tolerated intervention, and resulted in a significant reduction in the rate of pre-eclampsia,” wrote the researchers.
False dawn for vitamins C and E
Pre-eclampsia, affecting two to three per cent of all pregnancies, occurs when a mother's blood pressure rises to the hypertensive range, and excretion of protein in the urine becomes too high. It is estimated to be responsible for about 60000 deaths worldwide.
It is not known why some expectant mothers develop pre-eclampsia, although oxidative stress has been proposed to play a part. The role of antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress had been supported by a small clinical trial that linked vitamin C and E intake to fewer biomarkers for pre-eclampsia for predominantly low-risk participants.
However, subsequent studies, including a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine (Vol. 354, pp. 1796-1806) and a Cochrane Systematic Review (2007, Issue 4), found that vitamins C and E had no effects on the risk of pre-eclampsia.
“The absence of benefit and evidence of unfavorable outcomes in those studies cannot be extrapolated to other antioxidants, including CoQ10,” wrote the Ecuadorian researchers. “These findings should not detract from the potential importance of oxidative stress in pre-eclampsia.”
The potential of CoQ10
The Ecuadorian researchers recruited 235 pregnant women at an increased risk of pre-eclampsia and randomly assigned them to receive CoQ10 supplements (Q-absorb, Jarrow Formulas) or placebo from 20 weeks of pregnancy until delivery.
One hundred and ninety-seven women completed the study, and the overall rate of pre-eclampsia was 20 per cent. For women receiving the placebo, 30 of them developed pre-eclampsia, equivalent to 25.6 of women in this group. On the other hand, only 17 women, or 14.4 per cent, in the CoQ10 group developed pre-eclampsia. The difference between the groups was statistically significant, added the researchers.
“The results of this study support the hypothesis that coenzyme Q10 (100 mg twice a day) supplementation given prophylactically from 20 weeks of pregnancy leads to a reduction in the rate of pre-eclampsia in women at risk for the condition,” wrote the researchers.
Commenting on the potential mechanism, the researchers noted that the benefits of CoQ10 were most probably linked to its “activity as an essential component of mitochondrial complexes I and III, in addition to its well-known antioxidant properties”.
“More clinical studies are needed to investigate this further,” they concluded.
Source: International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics April 2009, Volume 105, Issue 1, Pages 43-45“Coenzyme Q10 supplementation during pregnancy reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia” Authors: E. Teran, I. Hernandez, B. Nieto, R. Tavara, J.E. Ocampo, A. Calle