Ubiquinone protects cultured neurons against spontaneous and excitotoxin-induced degeneration

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1992 Jul;12(4):638-45. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.1992.88.


Ubiquinone is an endogenous quinone with pharmacological actions mainly related to its antioxidant properties. Here we report that ubiquinone protects cultured cerebellar granule cells against glutamate-induced neurotoxicity. In control cultures at 9 days of maturation in vitro (DIV), a 30-min exposure to 100 microM glutamate induced neuronal degeneration, as reflected by the great percentage (greater than 90%) of cells labeled with propidium iodide 24 h after the exposure. Glutamate-induced neuronal death was dramatically reduced in cultures treated daily with ubiquinone since the second DIV. In these cultures, glutamate failed to induce a "delayed" increase in the influx of 45Ca2+, an established parameter of excitotoxicity. Similarly, repeated addition of ubiquinone attenuated in a concentration-dependent manner the age-dependent degeneration of granule cells that is due to the toxic action of the endogenous glutamate progressively released into the medium. These results suggest that ubiquinone may be a useful drug in the therapy of acute and chronic neurodegenerative diseases related to hyperactivity of excitatory amino acid neurotransmission.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Death / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebellum / cytology
  • Cerebellum / drug effects*
  • Cerebellum / metabolism
  • Glutamates / adverse effects
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurotoxins / adverse effects*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism
  • Ubiquinone / pharmacology*


  • Glutamates
  • Neurotoxins
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Ubiquinone
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Calcium