Metabolism and function of coenzyme Q

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2004 Jan 28;1660(1-2):171-99. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2003.11.012.


Coenzyme Q (CoQ) is present in all cells and membranes and in addition to be a member of the mitochondrial respiratory chain it has also several other functions of great importance for the cellular metabolism. This review summarizes the findings available to day concerning CoQ distribution, biosynthesis, regulatory modifications and its participation in cellular metabolism. There are a number of indications that this lipid is not always functioning by its direct presence at the site of action but also using e.g. receptor expression modifications, signal transduction mechanisms and action through its metabolites. The biosynthesis of CoQ is studied in great detail in bacteria and yeast but only to a limited extent in animal tissues and therefore the informations available is restricted. However, it is known that the CoQ is compartmentalized in the cell with multiple sites of biosynthesis, breakdown and regulation which is the basis of functional specialization. Some regulatory mechanisms concerning amount and biosynthesis are established and nuclear transcription factors are partly identified in this process. Using appropriate ligands of nuclear receptors the biosynthetic rate can be increased in experimental system which raises the possibility of drug-induced upregulation of the lipid in deficiency. During aging and pathophysiological conditions the tissue concentration of CoQ is modified which influences cellular functions. In this case the extent of disturbances is dependent on the localization and the modified distribution of the lipid at cellular and membrane levels.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Diet
  • Escherichia coli
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Mevalonic Acid / metabolism*
  • Models, Animal
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Terpenes
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Ubiquinone / administration & dosage
  • Ubiquinone / biosynthesis
  • Ubiquinone / metabolism
  • Ubiquinone / physiology*


  • Terpenes
  • Ubiquinone
  • 3-decaprenyl-4-hydroxybenzoate
  • Mevalonic Acid