~ How Coq10 Protects Brain Cells

Mitochondrial dysfunction is at the basis of many neurodegenerative diseases. The mitochondria are the "powerhouses" of cells, providing energy that fuel critical cellular functions. Aging and cumulative oxidative stress, however, impede the functioning of the mitochondria over time, resulting in dysfunction and demise.

Neuro-degenerative diseases involve early and accelerated nerve cell destruction. One of the primary causes of neuronal death is excitotoxicity, whereby the brain becomes over-sensitized to the neurotransmitter glutamate, whose role it is to send excitatory impulses.

Some scientists theorize that excitotoxicity can also result from a diminished energy level among neurons, which may lower their defenses against various neurotoxins and thus precipitate malfunctioning and death. Researchers now suggest that this bioenergy decline may be intimately involved with the progression of Parkinson's disease. Coenzyme Q10 seems to offer protection for neurons against the excitotoxicity of exposure to L-glutamate.*

The region of the brain affected by Parkinson's disease is also afflicted by excessive oxidative stress, more than is evident elsewhere in the brain. This oxidative stress is especially damaging to neurons whose energy levels are already taxed by neurotoxicity and excitotoxicity. According to a study published in a year 2001 issue of Neurotoxicology,* both neurotoxins and excitotoxins are "thought to involve free radical production, compromised mitochondrial activity and excessive lipid peroxidation." Logic would suggest then that restoring neuronal energy levels might boost these defenses and research has demonstrated that to be the case.

*Mazzio E et al. Effect of antioxidants on L-glutamate and N-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium ion induced-neurotoxicity in PC12 cells. Neurotoxicology 2001 Apr;22(2):283-8.

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