MAY SLOW PARKINSON'S
Study suggests coenzyme Q-10
prevents nerve cell death
Oct. 14, 2002 A small but promising study found that the over-the-counter
dietary supplement coenzyme Q-10, or CoQ10, may slow the progression
of Parkinson's disease. EXISTING TREATMENTS
may ease symptoms of the degenerative brain disorder but are not
believed to affect the underlying disease process. The new study
found evidence that the naturally occurring compound CoQ10 may
help stop the nerve cell death that characterizes Parkinson's.
"This is really sort of the Holy Grail of what we're trying
to do in Parkinson's disease," said Dr. Tim Greenamyre, a
Parkinson's scientist at Emory University who was not involved
in the research. "They're on the right track."
The study involved just 80 people. Half ate maple-nut flavored
wafers containing various CoQ10 doses, half took a placebo for
up to 16 months. By the study's end, the 23 patients on the highest
daily doses had 44 percent less decline in mental function, movement
and ability to perform daily living tasks than the placebo group.
Lead author Dr. Clifford Shults at the University of California
at San Diego and colleagues cautioned that there is not enough
proof to recommend that Parkinson's patients use the supplements,
which are sold over the counter as antioxidants that purportedly
help improve heart function.
But the findings are "tremendously encouraging" Shults
said. "We really need to do a definitive study" to confirm
the findings. The study appears in October's Archives of Neurology.
Parkinson's is a progressive disorder that affects about 500,000
Americans. It results from degeneration of nerve cells that produce
a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is needed to control
Symptoms include tremors, stiffness and a shuffling gait. Standard
treatment includes the drug levodopa, which is converted into
dopamine in the brain.