Results from a new study1 published in the journal Hypertension indicate that a CoQ10 ingredient known commercially as MitoQ (Antipodean Pharmaceuticals; Irvine, CA) may help improve arterial stiffness and “reverse” arterial aging in older adults. The company says MitoQ is the “world’s first” antioxidant that “acts directly in the cell’s mitochondria.” It adds that the current study is the also the first human study first to examine the effects of MitoQ on arterial health.
According to Antipodean Pharmaceuticals, MitoQ works by targeting the cell’s mitochondria, enabling them to produce more cellular energy and counteracting the negative effects of free radicals. Mitochondria, explains the company, are present in almost all of the body’s cells, including in the heart muscles, and provide those cells with the energy they need to function properly.
In the study, the authors write that “excess reactive oxygen species production by mitochondria is a key mechanism of age-related vascular dysfunction.” Arterial stiffness increases blood pressure and the risk of adverse cardiovascular events, especially after the age of 40. After age 60, the risk of cardiovascular health concerns increases even more sharply. While exercise and diet can help to improve cardiovascular health overall, there is currently no ingredient that specifically targets mitochondrial health.
On the company’s website the firm explains, “MitoQ is produced by binding a form of CoQ10 called ubiquinone, to a fat soluble, positively charged molecule. This positively charged molecule is able to flow directly into the mitochondria and through the normally impermeable inner membrane to end up deep inside the mitochondria. The inside of the mitochondria and inner membrane is the major site for biochemical reactions inside the mitochondria, including cellular respiration. This puts MitoQ exactly where it is needed the most, at concentrations several hundred-fold higher than if it just stayed in the blood. A reaction inside the inner membrane converts the ubiquinone in MitoQ into ubiquinol, the antioxidant and active form of Co Q10. This allows it to neutralise free radicals that accumulate within the mitochondria.”
The study authors point to existing research2 conducted at their laboratory which has shown that supplementation with MitoQ may improve vascular endothelial function and attenuate arterial stiffening by reducing mitochondrial-reactive oxygen species in older mice. However, MitoQ’s heart-health effects had not been previously studied in a human study population.
Thus, in this study, the authors sought to build on the previous animal data and provide evidence for MitoQ’s beneficial effects on arterial health in older humans. The current study included 20 health older adults between the ages of 60-79 with impaired endothelial function. Researchers supplemented the participants with either 20 mg/day MitoQ or the equivalent dosage of a placebo for six weeks.
By the end of the six-week study period, the researchers found that not only was MitoQ well-tolerated, but that brachial artery flow-mediated dilation was 42% higher in the MitoQ group than in the placebo group. Write the authors: “The improvement was associated with amelioration of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species–related suppression of endothelial function.” In addition, subjects given MitoQ exhibited significantly lower aortic stiffness compared with the placebo group. Plasma-oxidated low-density lipoprotein, which the researchers say is a marker of oxidative stress, was also lower in the MitoQ group.
“These findings in humans extend earlier preclinical observations and suggest that MitoQ and other therapeutic strategies targeting mitochondrial reactive oxygen species may hold promise for treating age-related vascular dysfunction,” the authors conclude. “Our results provide initial support for the idea that MitoQ, and potentially other mitochondria-targeted antioxidants, may be an effective treatment for improving vascular function and possibly decreasing the risk of cardiovascular health issues and other clinical disorders of aging, including cognitive dysfunction and chronic kidney health issues."
In a press statement from the company, it noted that the results are especially promising given that the 42% improvement in arterial dilation in the MitoQ group was more significant than the effects of three months of a caloric restriction-based weight-loss program (30%) on arterial dilation, and nearly equal to improvements in arterial health after three months of regular aerobic exercise (50%).
“The results of this groundbreaking antiaging study are consistent with what customers and doctors have been reporting to us about the benefits of MitoQ,” said Greg Macpherson, CEO, Antipodean Pharmaceuticals. “As people age, they are at greater risk for cardiovascular health issues that can be caused by poor diets and a lack of exercise. MitoQ represents a very promising complementary or alternative heart health strategy for maintaining flexible arteries and reducing cardiovascular health issues.”
1. Rossman MJ et al., “Chronic supplementation with a mitochondrial antioxidant (MitoQ) improves vascular function in health older adults,” Hypertension, vol. 71, no. 6 (June 2018): 1056-1063
2. Gioscia-Ryan RA et al., “Mitochondria-targeted antioxidant (MitoQ) ameliorates age-related arterial endothelial dysfunction in mice,” The Journal of Physiology, vol. 592, no. 12 (June 15, 2014): 2549-2561