, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 199–211 | Cite as

Physical activity affects plasma coenzyme Q10 levels differently in young and old humans

  • Jesús Del Pozo-Cruz
  • Elisabet Rodríguez-Bies
  • Manuel Ballesteros-Simarro
  • Ignacio Navas-Enamorado
  • Bui Thanh Tung
  • Plácido Navas
  • Guillermo López-LluchEmail author
Research Article


Coenzyme Q (Q) is a key lipidic compound for cell bioenergetics and membrane antioxidant activities. It has been shown that also has a central role in the prevention of oxidation of plasma lipoproteins. Q has been associated with the prevention of cholesterol oxidation and several aging-related diseases. However, to date no clear data on the levels of plasma Q during aging are available. We have measured the levels of plasmatic Q10 and cholesterol in young and old individuals showing different degrees of physical activity. Our results indicate that plasma Q10 levels in old people are higher that the levels found in young people. Our analysis also indicates that there is no a relationship between the degree of physical activity and Q10 levels when the general population is studied. However, very interestingly, we have found a different tendency between Q10 levels and physical activity depending on the age of individuals. In young people, higher activity correlates with lower Q10 levels in plasma whereas in older adults this ratio changes and higher activity is related to higher plasma Q10 levels and higher Q10/Chol ratios. Higher Q10 levels in plasma are related to lower lipoperoxidation and oxidized LDL levels in elderly people. Our results highlight the importance of life habits in the analysis of Q10 in plasma and indicate that the practice of physical activity at old age can improve antioxidant capacity in plasma and help to prevent cardiovascular diseases.


Coenzyme Q Blood Plasma Cholesterol Exercise Physical activity Aging 



We want to thank the participants for their patience, devotion and participation. This study has been supported by funds from the Andalusian Government as the BIO177 group through FEDER funds (European Commission). The Centro Andaluz de Biología del Desarrollo and the Universidad Pablo de Olavide provided human and infrastructure resources. Jesús del Pozo-Cruz was awarded a pre-doctoral fellowship and the study were funded by the project IMD2010-SC002 from the Centro Andaluz de Medicina del Deporte on behalf of the Government of Andalusia. Tung Bui Thanh received a fellowship from the AECID program (Spanish Ministry of Foreing Affair). ERB, MBS, PN and GLL are also members of the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Enfermedades Raras (CIBERER), Instituto Carlos III.


  1. Barroso MP, Gómez-Díaz C, Villalba JM, Burón MI, López-Lluch G, Navas P (1997) Plasma membrane ubiquinone controls ceramide production and prevents cell death induced by serum withdrawal. J Bioenerg Biomembr 29(3):259–267PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Battino M, Amadio E, Oradei A, Littarru GP (1997) Metabolic and antioxidant markers in the plasma of sportsmen from a Mediterranean town performing non-agonistic activity. Mol Aspects Med 18(Suppl):S241–S245PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bentinger M, Tekle M, Dallner G (2010) Coenzyme Q—biosynthesis and functions. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 396(1):74–79PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Braun B, Clarkson PM, Freedson PS, Kohl RL (1991) Effects of coenzyme Q10 supplementation on exercise performance, VO2max, and lipid peroxidation in trained cyclists. Int J Sport Nutr 1(4):353–365PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bruge F, Bacchetti T, Principi F, Scarpa ES, Littarru GP, Tiano L (2012) Olive oil supplemented with coenzyme Q(10): effect on plasma and lipoprotein oxidative status. Biofactors 38(3):249–256PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Buhmann C, Arlt S, Kontush A, Moller-Bertram T, Sperber S, Oechsner M, Stuerenburg HJ, Beisiegel U (2004) Plasma and CSF markers of oxidative stress are increased in Parkinson’s disease and influenced by antiparkinsonian medication. Neurobiol Dis 15(1):160–170PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Butcher LR, Thomas A, Backx K, Roberts A, Webb R, Morris K (2008) Low-intensity exercise exerts beneficial effects on plasma lipids via PPARgamma. Med Sci Sports Exerc 40(7):1263–1270PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohen J (1988) Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences, 2nd edn. Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers, Hillsdale, NJGoogle Scholar
  9. Craig CL, Marshall AL, Sjostrom M, Bauman AE, Booth ML, Ainsworth BE, Pratt M, Ekelund U, Yngve A, Sallis JF, Oja P (2003) International physical activity questionnaire: 12-country reliability and validity. Med Sci Sports Exerc 35(8):1381–1395PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crane FL, Hatefi Y, Lester RL, Widmer C (1957) Isolation of a quinone from beef heart mitochondria. Biochim Biophys Acta 25(1):220–221PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Crane FL, Sun IL, Sun EE (1993) The essential functions of coenzyme Q. Clin Investig 71(8 Suppl):S55–S59PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Esterbauer H, Puhl H, Dieber-Rotheneder M, Waeg G, Rabl H (1991) Effect of antioxidants on oxidative modification of LDL. Ann Med 23(5):573–581PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fernández-Ayala DJ, Martin SF, Barroso MP, Gómez-Díaz C, Villalba JM, Rodríguez-Aguilera JC, López-Lluch G, Navas P (2000) Coenzyme Q protects cells against serum withdrawal-induced apoptosis by inhibition of ceramide release and caspase-3 activation. Antioxid Redox Signal 2(2):263–275PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fernández-Ayala DJ, López-Lluch G, García-Valdés M, Arroyo A, Navas P (2005) Specificity of coenzyme Q(10) for a balanced function of respiratory chain and endogenous ubiquinone biosynthesis in human cells. Biochim Biophys Acta 1706(1–2):174–183PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fleg JL (2012) Aerobic exercise in the elderly: a key to successful aging. Discov Med 13(70):223–228PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Frei B, Kim MC, Ames BN (1990a) Ubiquinol-10 is an effective lipid-soluble antioxidant at physiological concentrations. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 87(12):4879–4883PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Frei B, Stocker R, England L, Ames BN (1990b) Ascorbate: the most effective antioxidant in human blood plasma. Adv Exp Med Biol 264:155–163PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Friedewald WT, Levy RI, Fredrickson DS (1972) Estimation of the concentration of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in plasma, without use of the preparative ultracentrifuge. Clin Chem 18(6):499–502Google Scholar
  19. Golbidi S, Laher I (2012) Exercise and the cardiovascular system. Cardiol Res Pract 2012:210852PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Gómez-Díaz C, Rodríguez-Aguilera JC, Barroso MP, Villalba JM, Navarro F, Crane FL, Navas P (1997) Antioxidant ascorbate is stabilized by NADH-coenzyme Q10 reductase in the plasma membrane. J Bioenerg Biomembr 29(3):251–257PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gutierrez-Mariscal FM, Pérez-Martínez P, Delgado-Lista J, Yubero-Serrano EM, Camargo A, Delgado-Casado N, Cruz-Teno C, Santos-González M, Rodríguez-Cantalejo F, Castaño JP, Villalba-Montoro JM, Fuentes F, Pérez-Jiménez F, López-Miranda J (2012) Mediterranean diet supplemented with coenzyme Q10 induces postprandial changes in p53 in response to oxidative DNA damage in elderly subjects. Age (Dordr) 34(2):389–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hernandez-Ojeda J, Cardona-Munoz EG, Roman-Pintos LM, Troyo-Sanroman R, Ortiz-Lazareno PC, Cardenas-Meza MA, Pascoe-González S, Miranda-Díaz AG (2012) The effect of ubiquinone in diabetic polyneuropathy: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. J Diabetes Complicat 26(4):352–358PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hyun DH, Hernandez JO, Mattson MP, de Cabo R (2006) The plasma membrane redox system in aging. Ageing Res Rev 5(2):209–220PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Johansen K, Theorell H, Karlsson J, Diamant B, Folkers K (1991) Coenzyme Q10, alpha-tocopherol and free cholesterol in HDL and LDL fractions. Ann Med 23(6):649–656PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kagan V, Quinn P (2001) Coenzyme Q: molecular mechanisms in health and disease. CRC Press, Boca Ratón, FloridaGoogle Scholar
  26. Karlsson J, Diamant B, Edlund PO, Lund B, Folkers K, Theorell H (1992) Plasma ubiquinone, alpha-tocopherol and cholesterol in man. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 62(2):160–164PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Kontush A, Schippling S, Spranger T, Beisiegel U (1999) Plasma ubiquinol-10 as a marker for disease: is the assay worthwhile? Biofactors 9(2–4):225–229PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lass A, Kwong L, Sohal RS (1999) Mitochondrial coenzyme Q content and aging. Biofactors 9(2–4):199–205PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lee SS, Pineau T, Drago J, Lee EJ, Owens JW, Kroetz DL, Fernández-Salguero PM, Westphal H, González FJ (1995) Targeted disruption of the alpha isoform of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gene in mice results in abolishment of the pleiotropic effects of peroxisome proliferators. Mol Cell Biol 15(6):3012–3022PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Lemberger T, Desvergne B, Wahli W (1996) Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors: a nuclear receptor signaling pathway in lipid physiology. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol 12:335–363PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. López-Lluch G, Barroso MP, Martin SF, Fernández-Ayala DJ, Gómez-Díaz C, Villalba JM, Navas P (1999) Role of plasma membrane coenzyme Q on the regulation of apoptosis. Biofactors 9(2–4):171–177PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. López-Lluch G, Rodríguez-Aguilera JC, Santos-Ocana C, Navas P (2010) Is coenzyme Q a key factor in aging? Mech Ageing Dev 131(4):225–235PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mancini A, Corbo GM, Gaballo A, Valente S, Gigliotti P, Cimino V, De Marinis L, Principi F, Littarru GP (2005) Relationships between plasma CoQ10 levels and thyroid hormones in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Biofactors 25(1–4):201–204PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Navas P, Villalba JM, de Cabo R (2007) The importance of plasma membrane coenzyme Q in aging and stress responses. Mitochondrion 7(Suppl):S34–S40PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Oh KS, Kim M, Lee J, Kim MJ, Nam YS, Ham JE, Shin SS, Lee CM, Yoon M (2006) Liver PPARalpha and UCP2 are involved in the regulation of obesity and lipid metabolism by swim training in genetically obese db/db mice. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 345(3):1232–1239PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Passi S, De Pita O, Puddu P, Littarru GP (2002) Lipophilic antioxidants in human sebum and aging. Free Radic Res 36(4):471–477PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pedersen HS, Mortensen SA, Rohde M, Deguchi Y, Mulvad G, Bjerregaard P, Hansen JC (1999) High serum coenzyme Q10, positively correlated with age, selenium and cholesterol, in Inuit of Greenland. A pilot study. Biofactors 9(2–4):319–323PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Peel NM, McClure RJ, Bartlett HP (2005) Behavioral determinants of healthy aging. Am J Prev Med 28(3):298–304PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Ravaglia G, Forti P, Maioli F, Scali RC, Boschi F, Cicognani A, Morini P, Bargossi A, Gasbarrini G (1996) Coenzyme Q10 plasma levels and body composition in elderly males. Arch Gerontol Geriatr 22(Suppl 1):539–543PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rikli J (2001) Senior fitness test manual. Human Kinetics, Champaign, ILGoogle Scholar
  41. Robinson CE, Keshavarzian A, Pasco DS, Frommel TO, Winship DH, Holmes EW (1999) Determination of protein carbonyl groups by immunoblotting. Anal Biochem 266(1):48–57PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rodríguez-Bies E, Santa-Cruz Calvo S, Fontan-Lozano A, Pena Amaro J, Berral de la Rosa FJ, Carrion AM, Navas P, López-Lluch G (2010) Muscle physiology changes induced by every other day feeding and endurance exercise in mice: effects on physical performance. PLoS ONE 5(11):e13900PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schmelzer C, Kubo H, Mori M, Sawashita J, Kitano M, Hosoe K, Boomgaarden I, Doring F, Higuchi K (2010) Supplementation with the reduced form of coenzyme Q10 decelerates phenotypic characteristics of senescence and induces a peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha gene expression signature in SAMP1 mice. Mol Nutr Food Res 54(6):805–815PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Soderberg M, Edlund C, Kristensson K, Dallner G (1990) Lipid compositions of different regions of the human brain during aging. J Neurochem 54(2):415–423PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sohmiya M, Tanaka M, Tak NW, Yanagisawa M, Tanino Y, Suzuki Y, Okamoto K, Yamamoto Y (2004) Redox status of plasma coenzyme Q10 indicates elevated systemic oxidative stress in Parkinson’s disease. J Neurol Sci 223(2):161–166PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Stewart KJ (2005) Physical activity and aging. Ann NY Acad Sci 1055:193–206PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Stocker R, Bowry VW, Frei B (1991) Ubiquinol-10 protects human low density lipoprotein more efficiently against lipid peroxidation than does alpha-tocopherol. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 88(5):1646–1650PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Thomas S, Reading J, Shephard RJ (1992) Revision of the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q). Can J Sport Sci 17(4):338–345PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Thomas AW, Davies NA, Moir H, Watkeys L, Ruffino JS, Isa SA, Butcher LR, Hughes MG, Morris K, Webb R (2012) Exercise-associated generation of PPARgamma ligands activates PPARgamma signaling events and upregulates genes related to lipid metabolism. J Appl Physiol 112(5):806–815PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tiano L, Padella L, Santoro L, Carnevali P, Principi F, Bruge F, Gabrielli O, Littarru GP (2012) Prolonged coenzyme Q10 treatment in down syndrome patients: effect on DNA oxidation. Neurobiol Aging 33(3):626.e1–8Google Scholar
  51. Tsai KL, Chen LH, Chiou SH, Chiou GY, Chen YC, Chou HY, Chen LK, Chen HY, Chiu TH, Tsai CS, Ou HC, Kao CL (2011) Coenzyme Q10 suppresses oxLDL-induced endothelial oxidative injuries by the modulation of LOX-1-mediated ROS generation via the AMPK/PKC/NADPH oxidase signaling pathway. Mol Nutr Food Res 55(Suppl 2):S227–S240PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Turunen M, Dallner G (1998) Elevation of ubiquinone content by peroxisomal inducers in rat liver during aging. Chem Biol Interact 116(1–2):79–91PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Turunen M, Olsson J, Dallner G (2004) Metabolism and function of coenzyme Q. Biochim Biophys Acta 1660(1–2):171–199PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Villalba JM, Parrado C, Santos-González M, Alcain FJ (2010) Therapeutic use of coenzyme Q10 and coenzyme Q10-related compounds and formulations. Expert Opin Investig Drugs 19(4):535–554PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wada H, Goto H, Hagiwara S, Yamamoto Y (2007) Redox status of coenzyme Q10 is associated with chronological age. J Am Geriatr Soc 55(7):1141–1142PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Witting PK, Pettersson K, Letters J, Stocker R (2000) Anti-atherogenic effect of coenzyme Q10 in apolipoprotein E gene knockout mice. Free Radic Biol Med 29(3–4):295–305PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Yang X, Dai G, Li G, Yang ES (2010) Coenzyme Q10 reduces beta-amyloid plaque in an APP/PS1 transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. J Mol Neurosci 41(1):110–113PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Yubero-Serrano EM, Delgado-Casado N, Delgado-Lista J, Pérez-Martínez P, Tasset-Cuevas I, Santos-González M, Caballero J, García-Rios A, Marin C, Gutierrez-Mariscal FM, Fuentes F, Villalba JM, Tunez I, Pérez-Jiménez F, López-Miranda J (2011) Postprandial antioxidant effect of the Mediterranean diet supplemented with coenzyme Q10 in elderly men and women. Age (Dord) 33(4):579–590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Yubero-Serrano EM, González-Guardia L, Rangel-Zuniga O, Delgado-Lista J, Gutierrez-Mariscal FM, Pérez-Martínez P, Delgado-Casado N, Cruz-Teno C, Tinahones FJ, Villalba JM, Pérez-Jiménez F, López-Miranda J (2012) Mediterranean diet supplemented with coenzyme Q10 modifies the expression of proinflammatory and endoplasmic reticulum stress-related genes in elderly men and women. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 67(1):3–10PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Zhang Y, Appelkvist EL, Kristensson K, Dallner G (1996) The lipid compositions of different regions of rat brain during development and aging. Neurobiol Aging 17(6):869–875PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jesús Del Pozo-Cruz
    • 1
  • Elisabet Rodríguez-Bies
    • 1
  • Manuel Ballesteros-Simarro
    • 1
  • Ignacio Navas-Enamorado
    • 1
  • Bui Thanh Tung
    • 1
  • Plácido Navas
    • 1
  • Guillermo López-Lluch
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Dpto. Fisiología, Anatomía y Biología Celular, Centro Andaluz de Biología del Desarrollo, CIBERER, Instituto de Salud Carlos IIIUniversidad Pablo de Olavide-CSIC-JASevilleSpain

Personalised recommendations