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Coenzyme Q10 slows decline of Parkinson

Washington University In St Louis : 14 October, 2002  (Technical Article)
A national clinical trial with 80 Parkinson
The study was conducted at numerous sites around the country, including Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The University of California, San Diego, coordinated the trial. The principal investigator at Washington University was Joel S. Perlmutter, M.D., professor of neurology and neurological surgery and of radiology and associate professor of anatomy and neurobiology.

ďThese preliminary findings are encouraging for the millions of people who suffer from this degenerative disease,Ē says Perlmutter. ďHowever, we must be cautious about recommending this therapy based upon a relatively small preliminary study, and a larger trial is necessary to confirm these results.Ē

The groupís results appear in the Oct. 15 issue of the Archives of Neurology and will be presented by the national principal investigator, Clifford Shults, M.D., professor of neurosciences at UCSD, on Oct. 15 at the annual meeting of the American Neurological Association in New York City.

Parkinsonís disease is a degenerative disorder of the brain in which patients develop tremors, stiff muscles and slowness of movement. It affects over 1 million people in the United States. Although certain drugs, such as levodopa, can reduce the symptoms of Parkinsonís disease, no treatment has been shown to slow the progressive deterioration in function.

The use of coenzyme Q10 to treat Parkinsonís disease is based on research by the UCSD team, in conjunction with Weill Medical College of Cornell University. They discovered that coenzyme Q10 is a
potent antioxidant and plays an integral role in supplying energy to chemical reactions in the body. This energy supply process is led by mitochondria, a component of the cellís nucleus.

The team also observed that people with Parkinsonís disease have impaired mitochondrial function and abnormally low levels of coenzyme Q10. Moreover, coenzyme Q10 appears to protect the brain from Parkinsonís disease in animals.

In the current trial, 80 patients with early signs of Parkinsonís disease who did not yet need medications typically used to treat Parkinsonís disease (such as levodopa) were randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or coenzyme Q10 four times a day. Participants who received the drug either were given 300, 600 or 1200 mg/day.

All participants were evaluated with a medical history, physical exam, laboratory tests and a battery of clinical assessments prior to beginning treatment and again at regular intervals. Evaluations continued for a maximum of 16 months or until participants required other medical treatments for Parkinsonís disease.

By the eighth month, the groups taking the lowest and intermediate dosages (300 and 600 mg/day) both were similarly less impaired and had better function than the placebo group, and those receiving the highest dosage (1200 mg/day) were even less impaired. Improvements were evident in assessments of mental function and mood, activities of daily living and motor skills. Group differences persisted for the duration of the study. But, according to Perlmutter, the study was too small to provide conclusive evidence of the benefit of coenzyme Q10.

The national group now is developing a proposal to carry out a larger study to confirm their results. Although coenzyme Q10 is a dietary supplement and therefore is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the research team strongly cautions patients against choosing to take the supplement until a larger, definitive trial can be conducted.

In addition to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and UCSD, the study group includes researchers at Oregon Health Sciences University, Rush Presbyterian/St. Lukeís Medical Center, Johns Hopkins University, University of Pennsylvania, Emory University, University of Rochester, Albany Medical College, University of Virginia and University of Southern California
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