Idebenone in patients with Friedreich ataxia

Neurosci Lett. 2001 Jun 29;306(3):169-72. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3940(01)01892-4.


Friedreich ataxia (FA), the most common form of degenerative ataxia, is thought to be caused by respiratory deficiency due to mitochondrial iron accumulation and oxidative stress. Idebenone, a free-radical scavenger, protects mitochondrial function in in vitro models of FA. In a placebo-controlled crossover trial we studied the effect of idebenone on respiratory function in nine ambulant FA patients. (31)P magnetic resonance spectroscopy demonstrated mitochondrial impairment in vivo in skeletal muscle of all FA patients, but no recovery with idebenone. No effects were seen in clinical scores. Echocardiography did not confirm a preliminary study reporting improvement of FA-associated cardiomyopathy with idebenone.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Benzoquinones / administration & dosage*
  • Cardiomyopathies / diagnostic imaging
  • Cardiomyopathies / drug therapy
  • Cardiomyopathies / etiology
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Echocardiography
  • Female
  • Friedreich Ataxia / complications
  • Friedreich Ataxia / diagnostic imaging
  • Friedreich Ataxia / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Ubiquinone / analogs & derivatives


  • Antioxidants
  • Benzoquinones
  • Ubiquinone
  • idebenone