Primary coenzyme Q10 deficiency and the brain

Biofactors. 2003;18(1-4):145-52. doi: 10.1002/biof.5520180217.


Our findings in 19 new patients with cerebellar ataxia establish the existence of an ataxic syndrome due to primary CoQ10 deficiency and responsive to CoQ10 therapy. As all patients presented cerebellar ataxia and cerebellar atrophy, this suggests a selective vulnerability of the cerebellum to CoQ10 deficiency. We investigated the regional distribution of coenzyme Q10 in the brain of adult rats and in the brain of one human subject. We also evaluated the levels of coenzyme Q9 (CoQ9) and CoQ10 in different brain regions and in visceral tissues of rats before and after oral administration of CoQ10. Our results show that in rats, amongst the seven brain regions studied, cerebellum contains the lowest level of CoQ. However, the relative proportion of CoQ10 was the same (about 30% of total CoQ) in all regions studied. The level of CoQ10 is much higher in brain than in blood or visceral tissue, such as liver, heart, or kidney. Daily oral administration of CoQ10 led to substantial increases of CoQ10 concentrations only in blood and liver. Of the four regions of one human brain studied, cerebellum again had the lowest CoQ10y concentration.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Brain Diseases / etiology
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / etiology
  • Cerebellum / chemistry
  • Cerebral Cortex / chemistry
  • Coenzymes
  • Corpus Striatum / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Kidney / chemistry
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Myocardium / chemistry
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Ubiquinone / administration & dosage
  • Ubiquinone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Ubiquinone / analysis*
  • Ubiquinone / deficiency*


  • Coenzymes
  • Ubiquinone
  • coenzyme Q10