Quick Reference Guide
PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone)
PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone), a powerful and focused antioxidant, is especially important in the mitochondria of cells. It is considered by some authorities to be an essential nutrient. PQQ promotes the creation of new mitochondria, a process known as mitochondrial biogenesis. This nutrient supports heart health and cognitive function.
An Essential Nutrient?
PQQ is a lipophilic antioxidant first recognized in the late 1970s as having cofactor functions acting in conjunction with important plant and animal enzymes. These cofactor functions are sufficiently important, in fact, to have led many researchers to propose PQQ as an essential dietary factor or even a vitamin. Until recently, it was controversial whether PQQ could be synthesized by humans and other higher mammals. Current reviews describe roles for PQQ in the regulation of cellular growth and differentiation, as a nutrient important in redox signaling and as having a vitamin function in stress tolerance. These functions, in turn, lead to benefits in the areas of cardiovascular and cognitive health.
Antioxidant Support for Heart FunctionThe body depends upon a vast number of repeated oxidation/ reduction reactions, processes collectively known as redox cycling. CoQ10 is the best known of redox-cycling nutrients. In the mitochondria, there is constant movement from ubiquinone (oxidized form) to ubiquinol (reduced form) and back again to carry electrons that is, transport energy for the creation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in the electron transport chain. PQQ similarly acts as an intermediate in hundreds or even thousands of such reactions, a role that places it in the center of the bodys antioxidant and free radical scavenging operations.
Free radicals are a byproduct of energy production in general and are generated in the greatest quantities in the mitochondria, the organelles in which most of the body’s energy is generated. The heart, which is always active, therefore, is a major site of free radical generation and in need of constant protection. Researchers have examined possible roles for PQQ in the heart and have concluded that PQQ, which appears to act as a free radical scavenger in ischemic myocardium, is a highly effective cardioprotective agent. In particular, it has been determined that PQQ protects mitochondria from ischemia/reperfusion oxidative damage. This mitochondrial and cellular protection appears to be associated with better blood flow to the heart muscle.
The brain, like the heart, is an energy-intensive organ. PQQ has been evaluated in areas such as neuroprotection, with positive results. As expected, PQQ suppresses the excessive generation of a number of radicals, including the extremely harmful peroxynitrite radical.
In both animal and clinical experiments, PQQ has exhibited positive effects in the areas of learning and memory. Animals fed a PQQsupplemented diet and then subjected to oxidative stress were more proficient learners in the Morris water maze test, a standard measurement of learning capacity. CoQ10 supplementation in this model improved learning when the animals were vitamin E deficient, but only the PQQ animals maintained better longer-term memory than did the controls. Importantly, findings of this nature are not limited to animal models. Memory, attention and cognition decline with age, at least in part due to oxidative stress. The combination of 20 mg PQQ plus CoQ10 in one clinical trial was sufficient to yield substantial benefits to human test subjects in all three areas.
Because of their role in energy production and the resulting generation of oxidants and free radicals, the mitochondria are vulnerable to damage due to their normal activities. With age, the number of functional mitochondria decline. Aging muscle tissue, for example, is less strong and recovers from challenges more slowly because the number of functional mitochondria in any given unit of tissue is lower and, thus, the production of energy for cellular repair is reduced. The best known methods of stimulating the production in new fully functional mitochondria are extreme physical exercise and caloric restriction. Neither of these options appeal to most individuals.
PQQ is valuable as a mitochondrial antioxidant that works particularly well with CoQ10. Even more importantly, PQQ promotes the formation of new mitochondria. One vector of action is via increased expression of peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma coactivator 1 alpha or PGC 1α. A second is through activation of the signaling protein known as cAMP response element-binding protein or CREB. Researchers have concluded that the ability of PQQ to stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis accounts in part for the action of this compound and suggests that PQQ may be beneficial in mitochondrial dysfunction.
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