Ubiquinol: an endogenous antioxidant in aerobic organisms

Clin Investig. 1993;71(8 Suppl):S60-5. doi: 10.1007/BF00226842.


Ubiquinone (coenzyme Q), in addition to its function as an electron and proton carrier in mitochondrial and bacterial electron transport linked to ATP synthesis, acts in its reduced form (ubiquinol) as an antioxidant, preventing the initiation and/or propagation of lipid peroxidation in biological membranes and in serum low-density lipoprotein. The antioxidant activity of ubiquinol is independent of the effect of vitamin E, which acts as a chain-breaking antioxidant inhibiting the propagation of lipid peroxidation. In addition, ubiquinol can efficiently sustain the effect of vitamin E by regenerating the vitamin from the tocopheroxyl radical, which otherwise must rely on water-soluble agents such as ascorbate (vitamin C). Ubiquinol is the only known lipid-soluble antioxidant that animal cells can synthesize de novo, and for which there exist enzymic mechanisms that can regenerate the antioxidant from its oxidized form resulting from its inhibitory effect of lipid peroxidation. These features, together with its high degree of hydrophobicity and its widespread occurrence in biological membranes and in low-density lipoprotein, suggest an important role of ubiquinol in cellular defense against oxidative damage. Degenerative diseases and aging may be manifestations of a decreased capacity to maintain adequate ubiquinol levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aerobiosis / physiology
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Ubiquinone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Ubiquinone / biosynthesis
  • Ubiquinone / physiology


  • Ubiquinone
  • ubiquinol