Metabolic implications of coenzyme Q10 in red blood cells and plasma lipoproteins

Mol Aspects Med. 1994:15 Suppl:s67-72. doi: 10.1016/0098-2997(94)90014-0.


Plasma coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is currently assayed in our laboratory for its well-known diagnostic meaning; in fact plasma CoQ10 levels are inversely related to metabolic demand. Definite levels of CoQ10 are also found in white and red blood cell components, as well as in platelets. Plasma and erythrocyte CoQ10 has a well assessed antioxidant role, which was demonstrated through a series of experiments. Erythrocytes previously enriched with exogenous CoQ10 were found more resistant to a hemolysis induced by a free radical initiator. Several enzymatic activities of erythrocyte ghosts were also protected by different side chain CoQ homologues, both when reduced and, although at a lesser extent, in the oxidized state. CoQ was not effective in preventing metal-catalyzed oxidation of erythrocyte membrane enzymes, and this effect is likely to be due to lack of interaction of CoQ with the metal target. Moreover CoQ was able to protect isolated enzymes and erythrocyte membrane bound enzymes from the inactivating effect of free radicals generated by water sonolysis or radiolysis. As far as plasma lipoproteins are concerned it is well known that LDL isolated from healthy volunteers supplemented with CoQ10 are more resistant to peroxidation induced by an azoinitiator. We started to systematically investigate CoQ10 and vitamin E levels in isolated human LDL and HDL. Both CoQ10 and vitamin E concentrations, referred to protein, were found higher in LDL than in HDL. Susceptibility to exogenously applied peroxidation did not correlate with the endogeneous content of the two antioxidants, possibly on the basis of different lipid content of these lipoproteins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Animals
  • Blood Cells / metabolism
  • Coenzymes
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism*
  • Free Radicals
  • Hemolysis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Lipoproteins / blood*
  • Lipoproteins / chemistry
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Plasma / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase / blood
  • Ubiquinone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Ubiquinone / blood
  • Ubiquinone / pharmacology


  • Coenzymes
  • Free Radicals
  • Lipoproteins
  • Ubiquinone
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase
  • coenzyme Q10