Animal study: Q10 reduces psychological stress and may help against depression

High doses of Q10 can reduce the damage that serious psychological stress can cause to the body. Sawsan Aboul-Fotouh of Ain Shams University in Egypt drew this conclusion from an experiment he performed with male rats. Q10 may even help combat depression.

If you subject lab animals to high enough levels of stress, they’ll stop eating. Stress even causes lab rats to lose their appetite for sugar, something they are as addicted to under normal conditions, as are the Homo sapiens who keep rats in cages and do strange experiments with them. In the end the animals die.

The researchers created stressful conditions for the rats by putting them in narrow perspex cylinders for a couple of hours, in which it was impossible for the animals to move.

Stress stimuli cause damage to brain cells in the long term. The mitochondria become damaged as a result of the overstimulation that occurs during long-term chronic stress. Q10 can protect mitochondria against precisely this type of damage.

Q10 is like a cellular lightning conductor. The cell presses Q10 molecules into the membrane of the mitochondria, a bit like thumbtacks, and these attract and neutralise the electrical charges that are released. This mechanism caused Aboul-Fotouh to wonder whether Q10 would reduce stress stimuli in the growing male rats that he shut up in cylinders for six hours a day.

During the four weeks that the experiment lasted the stressed rats [CRS] ate less than the rats that were not subjected to stress stimuli [Control]. They also grew less fast.


Administering Q10 – Aboul-Fotouh injected it directly into the lab animals’ gut – restored appetite and normalised the rats’ growth. The higher the dose, the stronger stress-inhibiting effect.

Usually you can’t just extrapolate the results of animal studies and apply them to humans, and the same goes for research done by Masanori Mitsuishi on the effect of protein on nutrition and endurance performance. Nevertheless we think it’s an interesting study for endurance athletes. According to Mitsuishi, a diet with too much protein leads to a long-term decline in performance in endurance athletes.


When the researcher studied brain cells from the rats’ cortex and hypothalamus, he noticed that the Q10 supplementation had boosted the activity of the enzyme creatine kinase. That probably means that Q10 makes more energy available to the brain cells, which would make them more resilient to stress stimuli.

Depression is often the result of serious and long-term exposure to stress. The results of his study suggest that Q10 supplementation may help to reduce or prevent depression, Aboul-Fotouh thinks. “It seems reasonable to propose that the administration of co-enzyme Q10 might be a useful therapy for depressive disorders”, he writes.

Unfortunately the researcher administered frighteningly high doses. To learn how to calculate the human equivalent of the dose click here. It’s worth noting that Aboul-Fotouh used ubiquinone, and sponsored studies have shown that the Q10 analogue ubiquinol is five times more effective than ubiquinone.

Would it be possible to boost the stress inhibiting/antidepressant effect of ubiquinol by combining it with creatine? After reading about this study, you might be inclined to think so.

Chronic treatment with coenzyme Q10 reverses restraint stress-induced anhedonia and enhances brain mitochondrial respiratory chain and creatine kinase activities in rats.


Several recent studies suggest a close link between mitochondrial dysfunction and depression. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a mobile electron carrier in the mitochondrial respiratory chain (MRC) with antioxidant and potential neuroprotective activities. This study investigated the effect of chronic administration of CoQ10 (50, 100, and 200 mg/kg/day, intraperitoneally, for 4 weeks) on anhedonia and on the activities of MRC complexes and creatine kinase in the frontal cortex and hippocampus of Wistar rats subjected to chronic restraint stress (CRS, 6 h×28 days). Exposure to CRS-induced anhedonic-like behavior (decreased sucrose preference), reduced body weight gain and food intake, increased adrenal gland weight, and altered the activity of the MRC complexes in the brain areas tested. CoQ10 dose-dependently antagonized CRS-induced depressive behavior by increasing sucrose preference (reversal of anhedonia), body weight, and food intake and reducing adrenal gland weight. CoQ10 also enhanced the activities of MRC complexes (I-IV) and creatine kinase in the frontal cortex and hippocampus. Thus, the reversal of CRS-induced anhedonia may be partially mediated by amelioration of brain mitochondrial function. The findings also support the hypothesis that brain energy impairment is involved in the pathophysiology of depression and enhancing mitochondrial function could provide an opportunity for development of a potentially more efficient drug therapy for depression.

PMID: 23928691 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23928691

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