Metabolism of the Flavonol Kaempferol in Kidney Cells Liberates the B-ring to Enter Coenzyme Q Biosynthesis

Molecules. 2020 Jun 27;25(13):2955. doi: 10.3390/molecules25132955.


Coenzyme Q (CoQ) is an essential component of the mitochondrial electron transport chain and an important antioxidant present in all cellular membranes. CoQ deficiencies are frequent in aging and in age-related diseases, and current treatments are limited to CoQ supplementation. Strategies that rely on CoQ supplementation suffer from poor uptake and trafficking of this very hydrophobic molecule. In a previous study, the dietary flavonol kaempferol was reported to serve as a CoQ ring precursor and to increase the CoQ content in kidney cells, but neither the part of the molecule entering CoQ biosynthesis nor the mechanism were described. In this study, kaempferol labeled specifically in the B-ring was isolated from Arabidopsis plants. Kidney cells treated with this compound incorporated the B-ring of kaempferol into newly synthesized CoQ, suggesting that the B-ring is metabolized via a mechanism described in plant cells. Kaempferol is a natural flavonoid present in fruits and vegetables and possesses antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory therapeutic properties. A better understanding of the role of kaempferol as a CoQ ring precursor makes this bioactive compound a potential candidate for the design of interventions aiming to increase endogenous CoQ biosynthesis and may improve CoQ deficient phenotypes in aging and disease.

Keywords: coenzyme Q; flavonoids; flavonol; kaempferol; kidney cells; precursor.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Ataxia / genetics*
  • Ataxia / metabolism
  • Ataxia / pathology
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Flavonols / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kaempferols / metabolism*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / genetics*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / pathology
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism
  • Muscle Weakness / genetics*
  • Muscle Weakness / metabolism
  • Muscle Weakness / pathology
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Ubiquinone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Ubiquinone / deficiency*
  • Ubiquinone / genetics
  • Ubiquinone / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonols
  • Kaempferols
  • Ubiquinone
  • kaempferol
  • coenzyme Q10

Supplementary concepts

  • Coenzyme Q10 Deficiency