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Life Extension Magazine October 2012

Powerful Protection Against Cellular Aging

By Michael Downey

Brain Effects

Brain Effects

Scientists found in pre-clinical trials that PQQ reversed cognitive impairment caused by oxidative stress and improved performance on memory tests.21 PQQ was shown to protect against a pathologic gene protein associated with Parkinson's disease. 22 Much of the long-term neurological damage that arises after a stroke or spinal cord injury is caused by reactive nitrogen species which impose severe stresses on damaged neurons. However, PQQ was found to suppress reactive nitrogen species in induced strokes.24

PQQ also blocked a source of reactive nitrogen species following spinal cord injury.25 Researchers concluded that PQQ significantly reduces the size of the damaged area of the brain even if administered 3 hours after the stroke!27 Additionally, it provides potent protection against the inflammation and oxidative damage that results from the sudden return of blood and nutrients to tissues deprived of them by stroke.26 It would seem that PQQ should become a standard nutrient in the hospital emergency room setting for rapid administration to stroke victims.

PQQ and Mitochondrial Biogenesis

Greater mitochondrial damage has been found in brain cells of humans over 70 relative to those in their early 40s. Many scientists believe mitochondrial longevity and the number of functioning mitochondria determine overall human longevity.51-53

The coenzyme PQQ, has been shown to induce mitochondrial biogenesis—the growth of new mitochondria in aging cells.

While coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, optimizes the function of mitochondria, PQQ activates genes that govern mitochondrial reproduction, protection, and repair.

To date, the only ways known to reliably stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis have been sustained calorie restriction or strenuous physical activity—potentially too rigorous for aging individuals.

With its power to safely trigger mitochondrial biogenesis, PQQ represents an extraordinary advance in the quest to reverse cellular aging.

Illustrating its cell signaling mechanism, PQQ protects neurons by modifying a key receptor site within our brain's neurotransmitter system.28,29 This inhibits excitotoxicity, a response to long-term over-stimulation of neurons that is associated with many neurodegenerative diseases and seizures.30-32

PQQ was shown to block neurotoxicity induced by other toxins, including mercury, a factor suspected to play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease.5,33

Accumulating research indicates that PQQ serves as an intervention in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease—blocking development, and oxidative effects, of both the amyloid beta protein associated with Alzheimer's and the alpha-synuclein protein associated with Parkinson's, before they can cause damage.34-37

PQQ has been observed to deliver substantial cognitive benefits, including improved memory and attention.9,38 It activates the manufacture and release of an important, neuro-protective, nerve growth factor.38 Scientists tested PQQ's cognitive effects in a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial conducted on humans. In this study of healthy individuals ranging from 45 to 65 years of age, 20 mg a day of PQQ produced clear improvements on standard tests of greater cognitive function. Also, the PQQ test group scored two-fold higher on memory tests than the control group.9

Scores were dramatically higher for a third group that received 300 mg per day of CoQ10 along with their 20 mg of PQQ. This underscores the powerful cognitive benefits of supplementation with agents shown to be involved in mitochondrial energy production.9

PQQ and Gene Expression

Recent rodent research on gene expression has shown that an induced deficiency of the coenzyme pyrroloquinoline quinone, or PQQ, results in an altering of the expression of a total of 438 genes.54 When the diet is then supplemented with PQQ, the genetic expression pattern reverts to normal. On investigation, the genes most affected by PQQ turned out to be those responsible for:58

PQQ and Gene Expression
  • Cell signaling
  • Cellular stress
  • Growth of new mitochondria
  • MAP kinase pathways (cell-surface-to-nucleus signaling proteins)
  • Transport of metabolites

These findings shed light on PQQ's genetic involvement with cell signaling, antioxidant activity, and mitochondrial biogenesis.


Through its broad cell signaling activity, PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone) modulates the many pathways of aging!

Scientific findings indicate that PQQ-enhanced signaling stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis,1-3 boosts cellular metabolism,1, improves cognitive performance and protects neurotransmitters, 4-7 and repairs DNA!8

Together, these mechanisms support subcellular anti-aging and promote longevity.

Studies have shown that PQQ beneficially modulates biomolecular functions that result in substantial heart and brain defense. As one example, scientists found that PQQ helped produce remarkable reversal of cognitive decline in aging humans!9

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.

Protecting Mitochondrial DNA

Degradation of mitochondrial DNA leads to mitochondria senescence and death—and extinction of the "host" organism.

As the power generators responsible for almost all bioenergetic production, mitochondria are the site of enormous oxidative activity. A nearly incalculable number of electrons are constantly flowing within the mitochondria, throwing off an equally enormous number of free radicals.

As a result, mitochondria are much more vulnerable to biochemical insults than other cellular structures.

And as scientists have discovered over the past several decades, mitochondrial DNA—relative to genetic DNA in the cell's nucleus (nuclear DNA)—possesses few defenses against free radical damage.55,56

Nuclear DNA is protected by numerous guardian proteins—histones and repair enzymes—that blunt the impact of free radicals. Similar repair systems do not exist to protect mitochondrial DNA.55-57

Also, nuclear DNA is housed within a protective double-membrane that separates it from the rest of the cell. This double-membrane is complemented by a dense matrix of filament proteins called the nuclear lamina, a kind of hard shell casing to further buffer DNA from external impacts.

By comparison, mitochondrial DNA is left almost entirely exposed. It is attached directly to the inner membrane where the mitochondria's electrochemical furnace rages continuously, generating an enormous volume of toxic reactive oxygen species.

The mitochondria rank among the physiological structures most vulnerable to destruction from oxidative damage.

And scientific studies link genetic mutation within the mitochondria to human aging.57-59

PQQ's formidable free radical-scavenging capacity furnishes the mitochondria with superior antioxidant protection.

As a bioactive coenzyme, PQQ supports optimal function within the mitochondria which is responsible for supplying the body with most of its bioenergy.60

Unlike other antioxidant compounds, PQQ's ex-ceptional stability allows it to carry out thousands of these electron transfers without undergoing molecular breakdown.

In fact, PQQ is up to 5,000 times more efficient in sustaining antioxidant capacity than other common antioxidant compounds, such as ascorbic acid.4