Preliminary study shows high-dose coenzyme Q10 slows functional decline in Parkinson's patients

A national clinical trial with 80 Parkinson's disease patients has shown that high dosages of a naturally occurring compound, coenzyme Q10, slowed by 44 percent the progressive deterioration in function that occurs in the disease. The greatest benefit was seen in everyday activities such as feeding, dressing, bathing and walking.

The study's coordinators caution that while encouraging, the therapy needs to be tested in a larger trial with hundreds of patients before this treatment can be recommended.

Published in the Oct. 15, 2002 issue of the American Medical Association's Archives of Neurology, the study was conducted at 10 sites by the Parkinson Study Group, under the direction of principal investigator Clifford Shults, M.D., professor of neurosciences, University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine, and chief of the Neurology Service at the VA San Diego Healthcare System. Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the brain in which patients develop tremor, slowness of movement and stiffness of muscles. It affects approximately 1 percent of Americans over the age of 65. Although certain drugs, such as levodopa, can reduce the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, no treatment has been shown to slow the progressive deterioration in function.

The selection of coenzyme Q10 as a potential treatment for Parkinson's was based on work carried out over the past decade by Shults, Richard Haas, M.D., UCSD professor of neurosciences, and Flint Beal, M.D., professor and chair of neurology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Shults explained that mitochondria produce the energy-containing molecules that supply energy to chemical reactions in cells and that coenzyme Q10 plays an integral role in that process. He further explained that coenzyme Q10 is also a potent antioxidant. Over the past several years, research by Shults, Haas and Beal showed that mitochondrial function is impaired in patients with Park

Contact: Sue Pondrom
University of California - San Diego

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