Background: Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) plays a critical role in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation by serving as an electron carrier in the respiratory electron transport chain. CoQ10 also functions as a lipid-soluble antioxidant by protecting lipids, proteins and DNA damaged by oxidative stress. CoQ10 deficiency has been associated with a number of human diseases in which CoQ10 supplementation therapy has been effective in slowing or reversing pathological changes. Oxidative stress is a major contributory factor in the process of retinal degeneration.
Method: The related literature was reviewed through searching PubMed using keywords: CoQ10, CoQ10 and oxidative stress, CoQ10 and retinal degeneration. The functions of CoQ10 were summarized and its use in the treatment of age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma highlighted. The therapeutic potential of CoQ10 for other retinal diseases was also discussed.
Results: CoQ10 has been applied in different types of neurodegeneration. CoQ10 is detectable in retina and declines with ageing. Early studies showed treatment of CoQ10 improved visual function in patients with age-related macular degeneration. In glaucomatous models, CoQ10 exposure protected ganglion cell death from environmental stress; in glaucoma patients, CoQ10 treatment demonstrated beneficial effects on function of inner retina and enhancement of visual cortical response. Since oxidative stress also plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy and retinitis pigmentosa, CoQ10 is a therapeutic target for both conditions.
Conclusion: A wide range of evidence supports a role of CoQ10 in retinal diseases through inhibiting production of reactive oxygen species and protecting neuroretinal cells from oxidative damage.