CoQ10 levels lower in multiple system atrophy patients

Acting on the recent discovery of an association between MSA and a variation in the COQ2 gene that encodes an enzyme involved in the body's production of CoQ10, researchers at the University of Tokyo compared plasma CoQ10 levels of 44 patients with MSA to 39 control subjects. Analysis of plasma samples for COQ2 mutations found the cerebellar genetic variant of MSA in 26 subjects and the parkinsonian variant among 18.

Multiple system atrophy patients had an average CoQ10 level of 0.51 micrograms per milliliter (mcg/mL), in comparison with 0.72 mcg/mL among the control group. Among patients with the cerebellar variant, levels averaged 0.58 mcg/mL and in those with the parkinsonian variant, levels were 0.49 mcg/mL. The authors remark that the finding supports the hypothesis that CoQ10 insufficiency plays a role in the development of MSA.

In an accompanying editorial, Sheng-Han Kuo, MD, and Catarina Quinzii, MD, suggest that the inability of CoQ10 supplementation to improve symptoms in two trials of patients with neurologic disorders could be due to the lower bioavailability of the form of CoQ10 used. They additionally emphasize that high doses of 1,200 to 2,400 milligrams per day are needed to reach the brain.

"Our data showed decreased levels of plasma CoQ10 in patients with MSA regardless of the COQ2 genotype, supporting a hypothesis that supplementation with CoQ10 is beneficial for patients with MSA," the authors of the current study conclude.