Coenzyme Q10 can prolong C. elegans lifespan by lowering oxidative stress

Mech Ageing Dev. 2004 Jan;125(1):41-6. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2003.10.002.


The mev-1 gene encodes cytochrome b, a large subunit of the Complex II enzyme succinate-CoQ oxidoreductase. The mev-1(kn1) mutants are hypersensitive to oxidative stress and age precociously, probably because of elevated superoxide anion production in mitochondria. Coenzyme Q (CoQ) is essential for the mitochondrial respiratory chain. Here, we show that CoQ(10) and Vitamin E extended the life span of wild-type Caenorhabditis elegans. Conversely, only CoQ(10) recovered the life shortening effects seen in mev-1. We also show that CoQ(10) but not Vitamin E reduced superoxide anion levels in wild type and mev-1. Another previously described phenotype of mev-1 animals is the presence of supernumerary apoptotic cells. We now demonstrate that CoQ(10) (but not Vitamin E) suppressed these supernumerary apoptoses. Collectively these data suggest that exogenously supplied CoQ(10) can play a significant anti-aging function. It may do so either by acting as an antioxidant to dismutate the free radical superoxide anion or by reducing the uncoupling of reactions during election transport that could otherwise result in superoxide anion production. The latter activity has not been ascribed to CoQ(10); however, it is known that conditions that uncouple electron transport reactions can lead to elevated superoxide anion production.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Coenzymes
  • Longevity / drug effects*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Superoxides / metabolism
  • Ubiquinone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Ubiquinone / pharmacology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Coenzymes
  • Superoxides
  • Ubiquinone
  • coenzyme Q10