PQQ Revitalizes Brain EnergyAugust 2019
By Kathy Honem
Scientists have documented that PQQ helps grow new mitochondria in aging cells.
This is important because over time, cell energy diminishes as mitochondria weaken and die. The result is accelerated aging throughout the body.1-3
PQQ facilitates production of new mitochondria,4-7 and helps energize existing mitochondria.
As research continues, PQQ promises to play a key role in the fight against the ravages of aging. Studies show that it restores youthful function and, in animal studies, enhances lifespan.8,9
Of significance to maturing individuals is the ability of PQQ to protect the brain from traumatic injury and stroke-induced damage, in addition to its systemic anti-aging properties.
PQQ is a vitamin-like compound essential for cellular energy functions.
Mitochondria and Aging
Mitochondria act like tiny power plants. They take digested nutrients and convert them into energizing compounds that cells use to do their work.
Most cellular functions rely on a constant supply of energy from mitochondria for essential activity such as growth, repair, and reproduction.
During our lifetime, mitochondria divide on their own to replenish their numbers—a remarkable process known as mitochondrial biogenesis. But with advancing age, this process slows.
Mitochondrial biogenesis is critical to protect cells from premature aging.2,3 As we get older and mitochondrial function diminishes, many health problems manifest, including neurodegeneration.1-3
But mitochondria can continue to grow, repair, and replenish themselves even in later life. They just need a boost—and that’s where PQQ comes in.
PQQ Boosts Mitochondrial Biogenesis
PQQ serves as a cofactor for several energy-generating reactions in the mitochondria.10 Animals raised without any intake of PQQ display many abnormalities of growth and development.11
New research confirms that PQQ is a powerful stimulator of mitochondrial biogenesis.4-7
A study evaluated the effect of a single dose of PQQ in human subjects.12 Each participant was given 0.3 mg of PQQ per kilogram of body weight, which amounts to approximately 20 mg for an average person.
Within 48 hours of supplementation there was a definitive increase in mitochondrial function as measured by metabolites in the urine.
A side benefit to this single 20 mg dose of PQQ: Markers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein and interleukin-6, decreased, showing evidence that PQQ also has an anti-inflammatory effect that could help ward off a variety of ailments.
Healthy Brain Aging
The brain is one of the most metabolically active organs in the body. Because of PQQ’s ability to stimulate mitochondrial growth, researchers believed that it should have beneficial effects for cognition and brain health.
Mitochondrial biogenesis has been identified as key in protecting against neurodegeneration and cognitive decline.13,14
In one study, 41 healthy, elderly subjects were randomized to receive either 20 mg of PQQ daily for 12 weeks or a placebo. Compared to the placebo, supplementation with PQQ was associated with significant improvements in attention and working memory, and an associated increase in brain blood flow in the frontal lobes.14
In elderly people with forgetfulness (either self-identified or identified by a family member or acquaintance), the same PQQ dose led to improvements in memory-test scores after eight weeks.15
Researchers have also found evidence that PQQ may slow the progression of serious neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s—or even prevent them altogether.16-22 That’s because, in addition to boosting mitochondrial function, PQQ has been found to prevent the accumulation of abnormal proteins (such as beta-amyloid and alpha-synuclein) associated with these diseases.16-18
Moreover, PQQ protects against the toxic effects of these abnormal proteins that damage brain function. For example, cells exposed to amyloid normally display oxidative stress and cell death. In one study, treatment with PQQ dramatically reversed these effects, helping to keep brain cells viable and healthy.22 This indicates remarkable potential for PQQ to halt the development of various kinds of dementia.
PQQ and Recovery from Traumatic Injury
The ability of PQQ to protect and keep cells healthy, even in the face of damage, has led to explorations of PQQ as a neuroprotective compound in cases of traumatic injury.
In experimental rodent models of traumatic brain injury, treatment with PQQ successfully prevented cell death.23,24 It did this by preventing the activation of caspases, which are proteins associated with pathways that lead to cell death. This protective effect is linked to improved brain function and cognitive performance—that are otherwise significantly reduced after head injury.
These neuroprotective effects also extend to the peripheral nervous system, that connects the brain and spinal cord to the limbs and organs. The regeneration of peripheral nerves that have been severed is enhanced by treatment with PQQ.25-28
This important finding has led to the development of nerve repair conduits that are filled with PQQ. The aim is for surgeons to use these in nerve reconstruction procedures to help maximize recovery following nerve injuries.25,27,28
Head trauma is a major problem for maturing individuals at greater risk for falls. PQQ may protect against excessive damage if one sustains a head injury.
PQQ and Stroke
Stroke remains a leading cause of paralysis, memory loss, nursing home confinement, and premature death.
Emergency medicine technologies such as clot-dissolving drug therapy (tissue plasminogen activator or tPA) are sparing numerous stroke victims from permanent paralysis.
More advanced approaches, such as endovascular thrombectomy (mechanical clot retrieval from occluded cerebral artery), are enabling more stroke victims to avoid paralysis. Thrombectomy has been shown effective up to 24 hours after onset of ischemic stroke symptoms.
PQQ can also play a role in further protecting the brain from the devastation of a stroke.
In lab studies, PQQ reduced ischemic damage, potentially improving the quality of life following a stroke.
This was demonstrated in an animal model of ischemic stroke. When PQQ supplementation was given before ischemia was induced, it significantly reduced the size of the damaged brain tissue region.
Surprisingly, PQQ had a similar protective effect even when it was administered after the ischemia was induced.29
Another study showed similar neuroprotective effects. It also showed that PQQ led to significantly improved neurobehavioral scores after the stroke. 30 These findings are tremendously exciting for those working in the area of human stroke prevention and treatment. The implication is that stroke patients could be given PQQ in the emergency room to reduce paralyzing brain damage.
PQQ Extends Lifespan
The way PQQ boosts mitochondrial growth turns out to have extraordinary side benefits.6
Supplementation with PQQ turns on a gene expression pathway regulated by PGC-1 a, a well-known activator of mitochondrial biogenesis.
It appears to achieve this through activation of SIRT1, a sirtuin protein. Numerous recent studies have shown that sirtuins help regulate cellular health, protect against disease and age-related loss of function, and play a role in boosting longevity.6,31-38
In other words, not only does PQQ trigger mitochondrial biogenesis, it also activates and supports many other protective mechanisms tied to lifespan extension and health.
In addition to all these effects, PQQ mops up damaging free radicals. Many other nutrients can only quell oxidative stress for a short period of time.
For example, vitamin C can only participate in about four cycles of beneficial redox cycling. In comparison, one molecule of PQQ can undergo an astonishing 20,000 cycles!10,39
As a result of all these abilities, PQQ has shown it can increase lifespan. A type of roundworm, C. elegans, is an animal model commonly used to study longevity, due to its relatively short lifespan. Two different research groups have used this model to evaluate PQQ’s life-extension effects.8,9
In both studies, supplementation with PQQ led to a significant increase in the average lifespan of treated animals. In fact, the studies’ findings were almost identical, with an average increase in lifespan by 30% in one study and 31% in the other.
Dr. Bruce N. Ames is a widely respected professor emeritus of biochemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, who has also worked for the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Ames writes frequently about nutrients that prolong life and improve health.
Dr. Ames puts PQQ on his shortlist of “longevity vitamins,”8 based on its ability to stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis. He maintains that optimal levels of PQQ, along with a handful of other compounds (like CoQ10), are “necessary for promoting healthy aging.”
Scientists and physicians are just beginning to recognize the importance of pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ). Compelling evidence shows this nutrient is crucial for healthy cellular functions.
Through its ability to activate mitochondrial biogenesis, PQQ supports healthy aging, and helps protect cells from damage that contributes to loss of function in older age.
Increased intake of PQQ has demonstrated the ability to augment healthy brain function and may prevent age-related loss of cognitive function, including dementia due to stroke or Alzheimer’s disease.
Because PQQ is not produced in the body, it must be acquired from the diet or through supplementation. To date, human studies have generally utilized doses of approximately 20 mg of PQQ daily.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.
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