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Uncovering the Mechanisms Behind CoQ10’s Anti-Inflammatory Properties

The presence of excess inflammation is the main driver behind metabolic diseases such as insulin resistance, obesity, metabolic syndrome (MS), type 2 diabetes (T2D), cardiovascular disease (CVD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker produced by the liver and adipocytokines (bioactive molecules produced in fat tissue) such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor- α (TNF- α) are molecules which are key in this inflammatory process. Treatment options focused on dampening inflammation by reducing these inflammatory molecules has led to a wide array pharmaceutical interventions such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) as well as increased interest in targeted anti-inflammatory natural therapeutics.

One such natural agent commonly utilized in supplemental form for its purported anti-inflammatory role is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), an endogenously produced antioxidant found in plants, bacteria, animals and humans and an essential cofactor in the mitochondrial electron transport chain. CoQ10 has been used to enhance energy, augment the immune system, act as an antioxidant and is commonly utilized for those with cardiovascular disease. Many of its beneficial roles are believed to stem from its anti-inflammatory properties however, the mechanisms for CoQ10s anti-inflammatory role is less well known and incompletely understood. [1], [2]

Researchers interested in learning more about CoQ10’s anti-inflammatory pathways conducted a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to explore whether nutritionally supplementing with CoQ10 could raise serum levels of CoQ10 and if taking this nutritional supplement resulted in a change in levels of specific inflammatory molecules in the human body including Il-6, TNF- α and CRP.

Electronic databases were searched through February 2016 and information from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) was gathered and analyzed. Overall, nine trials involving 428 subjects were included in the final meta-analysis. It was found that supplementation with CoQ10 in these RCTs led to a significant increase in serum levels of CoQ10. Additionally, nutritional supplementation of CoQ10 led to a significant decrease in TNF- α. No significant difference was found between CoQ10 supplementation and placebo with regard to levels of CRP or Il-6.

The authors of this study concluded that CoQ10 supplementation may partly improve the process of the inflammatory state in patients with metabolic diseases and that future studies with larger sample sizes and well-designed RCTs are needed. [3]

The study results were published online at PLoS ONE in January 2017.

View the Study

[1] Saini, R. Coenzyme A10: The Essential nutrient. J Pharm Bioallied Scie.. 2011 Jul-Sep; 3(3): 466–467.

[2] National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health. CoEnzyme Q10: In-Depth. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/supplements/coq10 (Accessed August 18, 2017)

[3] Zhai J, Bo Y, Lu Y, Liu C, Zhang L (2017) Effects of Coenzyme Q10 on markers of Inflammation: A Systemic Review and Meta Analysis, PLoS ONE 12(1):e0170172. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0170172

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