The phase II study, led by Clifford Shults, M.D., of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, looked at a total of 80 PD patients at 10 centers across the country to determine if coenzyme Q10 is safe and if it can slow the rate of functional decline. The study was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and appears in the October 15, 2002, issue of the Archives of Neurology.*
"This trial suggested that coenzyme Q10 can slow the rate of deterioration in Parkinson's disease," says Dr. Shults. "However, before the compound is used widely, the results need to be confirmed in a larger group of patients."
PD is a chronic, progressive neurological disease that affects about 500,000 people in the United States. It results from the loss of brain cells that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine and causes tremor, stiffness of the limbs and trunk, impaired balance and coordination, and slowing of movements. Patients also sometimes develop other symptoms, including difficulty swallowing, disturbed sleep, and emotional problems. PD usually affects people over the age of 50, but it can affect younger people as well. While levodopa and other drugs can ease the symptoms of PD, none of the current treatments has been shown to slow the course of the disease.
The investigators believe coenzyme Q10 works by improving the function of mitochondria, the "powerhouses" that produce energy in cells. Coenzyme Q10 is an important link in the chain of chemical reactions that produces this energy. It also is a potent antioxidant a chemical that "mops up" pote
Contact: Natalie Frazin or Margo Warren
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke