Salutations, loved ones!
Today we’re going to interrupt our normal conversations about health and biochemistry to discuss an issue that’s more personal and introspective.
Do you ever wake up in the morning wishing there was more to life?
……..like you had a reason to go on living?
Do you ever get down on yourself and wish you didn’t have to spend so much time chewing on life’s gristle? That you didn’t have to spend so much time being alone?
Well friends, guess what?
That has nothing to do with today’s article.
Instead, we’re going to revel in the details OF THE MITOCHONDRIA!! THE ELECTRON CRUNCHING ENERGY FACTORY THAT CHARGES THE CELL!
Don’t say I didn’t warn you about what’s to come!
A Word To The Wise
Your 6th grade biology teacher probably prattled on about how your mitochondria were the “powerhouses” of the cell, and you probably took the bait hook, line and sinker without paying a second thought to what that actually means.
And that was probably a good idea, since bragging to your classmates about the details of the electron transport chain wouldn’t have done much to escort you through the social status chain that’s oh-so important in junior high.
I didn’t learn that lesson until it was too late.
But I digress…..
Your mitochondria got their nickname by being very important for energy transfer. It does this by transporting electrons and hydrogen atoms across chemical and electrical gradients inside its membranes that allow your body to cycle its ATP (what your body uses for energy).
In the process it kicks off lots of free radicals, antioxidants, and polarized electrical charges that make your mitochondria a bit like Sauron’s Palantir with the way it can channel the energies of the cosmos to do its thing.
Say Hello To Q….
An important mitochondrial regulator is a molecule called CoQ10. It facilitates the production of energy, quenches free radicals, and generates superoxide [footnote]a molecule that functions both as an anti-oxidant and pro-oxidant[/footnote] inside the mitochondria as part of its daily grind.
Not surprisingly, diseases that arise from mitochondrial dysfunction (Parkinson’s, some versions of Alzheimers, Hepatitis C, senescence in general) have altered levels of CoQ10 as a primary symptom.
You’d think supplementary CoQ10 would be a wise choice to ease the pathology of these conditions but you’d be mistaken. Supplementary CoQ10 is poorly absorbed, and more importantly, it has a hard time making its way inside the mitochondria because it can’t pass the hydrophilic (water loving) portion of the mitochondrial membrane.
CoQ, Meet MitoQ
So that brings us to MitoQ.
It’s a CoQ molecule with an electrically charged [footnote]the technical name is a triphenylphosphonium (TPP) molecule[/footnote] sidechain attached to it. An academic detail, but nonetheless important because its presence gives MitoQ at least a 400% higher affinity for the mitochondrial membrane in vitro. [footnote]The prudent reader will note the meaning of this detail should be discounted due to the fact that in vitro results aren’t always relevant for physiological conditions.[/footnote]
It’s also absorbed better, as you can see:
In human clinical trials there have been no adverse events at doses of 40 and 80 mg, indicating it’s very safe for day-to-day use.
More importantly MitoQ behaves differently than CoQ10 inside the cell in ways that make it more potent as an antioxidant.
Mitochondrial CoQ10 gets siphoned off for various functions, but the TPP sidechain on MitoQ causes it to plant itself firmly inside the mitochondrial membrane, where it does nothing but quench free radicals.
MitoQ is especially important at reducing lipid peroxides, and in rat models it’s improved anti-oxidant status for animals with cardiac ischemia, high blood pressure and sepsis.
Of Human Concern
It is easy to accumulate false hope about a compound before you observe how it behaves in humans during clinical trials.
Will it get destroyed by the liver? Can the body assimilate it in a manner similar to its analogue nutrient? Will it cause massive defecation out of both holes 17 minutes after consumption?
These are all very relevant issues that need to be accounted for before you can legitimately be excited about the therapeutic potential of a new molecule.
In this regard the results for MitoQ have been encouraging, even if it hasn’t proven to be an age-defying wonder drug.
It has moved past phase II trials for both Parkinson’s and Hepatitis C.
It does seem to be good at improving overall antioxidant status.
As noted before it seems to be very safe, and is available over the counter (you can get it here), and given its effectiveness at low doses, MitoQ is a better way to improve antioxidant health than CoQ10 itself Mg for Mg.
James, Andrew, et. al. “Interaction of the Mitochondria-targeted Antioxidant MitoQ with Phospholipid Bilayers and Ubiquinone Oxidoreductases”, http://www.jbc.org/content/282/20/14708.full
Snow, Barry, et. al. “A double-blind, placebo-controlled study to assess the mitochondria-targeted antioxidant MitoQ as a disease-modifying therapy in Parkinson’s disease” http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mds.23148/full
Saretzkia, Gabriele, et al. “MitoQ counteracts telomere shortening and elongates lifespan of fibroblasts under mild oxidative stress” http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1474-9728.2003.00040.x/full
Smith, Robin, et. al. “Animal and human studies with the mitochondria-targeted antioxidant MitoQ” http://www.mitoq.com/skin/frontend/first/mitoq/pdf/Animal-and-human-studies-with-MitoQ.pdf
Sohal, Rajinder, et al “Coenzyme Q, oxidative stress and aging” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1978491/
Turenin, Mikael, et al “Metabolism and Function of CoEnzyme Q” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005273603003717#BIB229
ZX, Liu “Relative bioavailability comparison of different coenzyme Q10 formulations with a novel delivery system.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19284181
Moreira, Paula “A Therapeutic Target in Neuroegeneration” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2790540/