Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), otherwise known as methoxatin, is a water-soluble, redox-cycling orthoquinone that was initially isolated from cultures of methylotropic bacteria. It has been found to be a cofactor of some bacterial alcohol dehydrogenases, and is present in many animal tissues. It may be a novel vitamin because it has been shown to be essential for normal growth and development. The redox-cycling ability of PQQ enables it to scavenge or generate superoxide. When fed to animals as a supplement, PQQ prevents oxidative changes that would ordinarily occur. It has been reported to inhibit glutamate decarboxylase activity and protect against N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-mediated neurotoxicity in the brain. It appears that in the whole animal, however, PQQ does not cross the blood-brain barrier. Furthermore, it increases nerve growth factor (NGF) synthesis in mouse astroglial cells, but has to be bound to glycine to penetrate and exert this effect in whole brain. It may therefore be regarded as a "Janus faced" molecule, with its potential for a therapeutic role in the brain still in question.