Mitochondrial insufficiency and dysfunction are contributing factors in many of the debilitating health conditions that burden individual families and national healthcare resources alike. Malfunctioning of these energy-producing organelles has been shown to cause or exacerbate the pathology and progression of , ,, , and more. With this in mind, pharmaceutical drugs, nutritional supplements, dietary interventions, and lifestyle practices that can boost mitochondrial density and efficiency are at the forefront of cutting-edge academic and clinical research, along with a growing interest among laypeople looking to optimize their health and longevity.
Intermittent fasting is an effective, yet simple—and free!—way for patients to start. cascade through multiple organ and tissue systems, with potential benefits that are difficult to fully catalog. Physical exercise is another . Diets rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, and help support healthy plasma membrane synthesis, including those of the double-membraned mitochondria. Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), owing to their unique conversion to ketone bodies, may help to nourish cells whose mitochondria are not able to metabolize glucose effectively, . MCTs have also been used to provide nourishment to healthy cells and , owing in part to cancer cells’ near-total dependence on glucose metabolism .
With all this in mind, interest in and demand for other interventions that might boost mitochondrial efficiency are growing. One such intervention is supplementation with the compound PQQ. PQQ—short for pyrroloquinoline quinone—is a cofactor for bacterial redox reactions and is a signaling agent for proteins kinases involved in differentiation of mammalian cells. The high redox recycling ability of PQQ may give it . (As a redox agent, PQQ is extremely stable and can participate in , such as ascorbic acid, quercetin, and epicatechin.)
Mammals do not synthesize PQQ, and while it is not currently classified as a vitamin or otherwise essential nutrient, PQQ is believed to be , and may even be . In humans, PQQ is typically found in miniscule concentrations: nanograms per gram. Like any such substance, however—be it a vitamin, mineral, or a “non-essential” nutrient—certain health conditions may benefit from higher concentrations, increased via supplementation with levels above those typically obtained from foods.
Among a selection of vegetables, fruits, tea, alcoholic beverages, and soy , PQQ was found in all samples, ranging from 3.7 - 61 ng/g or ng/ml. The highest concentration was found in natto, a fermented soy food that is also the richest source for another . Parsley, papaya, green peppers, and oolong and green teas were found to be good sources of PQQ. Animal foods, including eggs and dairy, have been shown to contain large amounts of PQQ, but the detection and assay methods used have been . Since mammalian cells cannot synthesize PQQ, researchers believe the PQQ found in human tissue is likely .
Rat studies show impressive efficacy for . Rat hepatocytes incubated with PQQ at 10–30 μM for 24–48 h exhibited “increased citrate synthase and cytochrome c oxidase activity, Mitotracker staining, mitochondrial DNA content, and cellular oxygen respiration. The induction of this process occurred through the activation of cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α (PGC-1α), a pathway known to regulate mitochondrial biogenesis.” In vivo studies in rats also show (2mg PQQ/kg of food). These include decreased plasma triglycerides, increased energy expenditure (correlated with hepatic mitochondrial content), and improved tolerance to cardiac ischemia/reperfusion. Experimental models of stroke and spinal cord injury show that , in part through PQQ protecting N-methyl-d-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptors. Rat models of Parkinson’s disease show that , increases reactive oxygen species scavenging ability, and offers.
Much of the research on PQQ to date has been conducted in animals, but there is a growing body of work supporting its use in humans, with . Oral PQQ supplementation does. More work needs to be done in investigating the efficacy of PQQ for conditions known to have underpinnings in mitochondrial dysfunction, but evidence so far is quite compelling for PQQ’s role in helping to .
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- Tags: Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, functional medicine, Mitochondria, MS, parkinson's, PQQ