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Coenzyme Q10 (PDQ®)

Laboratory/Animal/Preclinical Studies

Laboratory work on coenzyme Q10 has focused primarily on its structure and its function in cell respiration. Studies in animals have demonstrated that coenzyme Q10 is capable of stimulating the immune system, with treated animals showing increased resistance to protozoal infections [1,2] and to viral and chemically-induced neoplasia.[1-4] Early studies of coenzyme Q10 showed increased hematopoiesis (the formation of new blood cells) in monkeys,[4,5] rabbits,[6] and poultry.[5] Coenzyme Q10 demonstrated a protective effect on the heart muscle of mice, rats, and rabbits given the anthracycline anticancer drug doxorubicin.[7-12] Although another study confirmed this protective effect with intraperitoneal administration of doxorubicin in mice, it failed to demonstrate a protective effect when the anthracycline was given intravenously, which is the route of administration in humans.[13] Researchers in one study sounded a cautionary note when they found that coadministration of coenzyme Q10 and radiation therapy decreased the effectiveness of the radiation therapy.[14] In this study, mice inoculated with human small cell lung cancer cells (a xenograft study), and then given coenzyme Q10 and single-dose radiation therapy, showed substantially less inhibition of tumor growth than mice in the control group that were treated with radiation therapy alone. Since radiation leads to the production of free radicals, and since antioxidants protect against free radical damage, the effect in this study might be explained by coenzyme Q10 acting as an antioxidant. As noted previously (General Information), there is some evidence from laboratory and animal studies that analogs of coenzyme Q10 may have direct anticancer activity.[15,16]


  1. Bliznakov EG, Adler AD: Nonlinear response of the reticuloendothelial system upon stimulation. Pathol Microbiol (Basel) 38 (6): 393-410, 1972. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Bliznakov EG: Coenzyme Q in experimental infections and neoplasia. In: Folkers K, Yamamura Y, eds.: Biomedical and Clinical Aspects of Coenzyme Q. Vol 1. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier/North-Holland Biomedical Press, 1977, pp 73-83.
  3. Bliznakov EG: Effect of stimulation of the host defense system by coenzyme Q 10 on dibenzpyrene-induced tumors and infection with Friend leukemia virus in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 70 (2): 390-4, 1973. [PUBMED Abstract]
  4. Folkers K, Osterborg A, Nylander M, et al.: Activities of vitamin Q10 in animal models and a serious deficiency in patients with cancer. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 234 (2): 296-9, 1997. [PUBMED Abstract]
  5. Folkers K, Brown R, Judy WV, et al.: Survival of cancer patients on therapy with coenzyme Q10. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 192 (1): 241-5, 1993. [PUBMED Abstract]
  6. Ludwig FC, Elashoff RM, Smith JL, et al.: Response of the bone marrow of the vitamin E-deficient rabbit to coenzyme Q and vitamin E. Scand J Haematol 4 (4): 292-300, 1967. [PUBMED Abstract]
  7. Choe JY, Combs AB, Folkers K: Prevention by coenzyme Q10 of the electrocardiographic changes induced by adriamycin in rats. Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol 23 (1): 199-202, 1979. [PUBMED Abstract]
  8. Combs AB, Choe JY, Truong DH, et al.: Reduction by coenzyme Q10 of the acute toxicity of adriamycin in mice. Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol 18 (3): 565-8, 1977. [PUBMED Abstract]
  9. Folkers K, Choe JY, Combs AB: Rescue by coenzyme Q10 from electrocardiographic abnormalities caused by the toxicity of adriamycin in the rat. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 75 (10): 5178-80, 1978. [PUBMED Abstract]
  10. Lubawy WC, Dallam RA, Hurley LH: Protection against anthramycin-induced toxicity in mice by coenzyme Q10. J Natl Cancer Inst 64 (1): 105-9, 1980. [PUBMED Abstract]
  11. Shinozawa S, Gomita Y, Araki Y: Protective effects of various drugs on adriamycin (doxorubicin)-induced toxicity and microsomal lipid peroxidation in mice and rats. Biol Pharm Bull 16 (11): 1114-7, 1993. [PUBMED Abstract]
  12. Usui T, Ishikura H, Izumi Y, et al.: Possible prevention from the progression of cardiotoxicity in adriamycin-treated rabbits by coenzyme Q10. Toxicol Lett 12 (1): 75-82, 1982. [PUBMED Abstract]
  13. Shaeffer J, El-Mahdi AM, Nichols RK: Coenzyme Q10 and adriamycin toxicity in mice. Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol 29 (2): 309-15, 1980. [PUBMED Abstract]
  14. Lund EL, Quistorff B, Spang-Thomsen M, et al.: Effect of radiation therapy on small-cell lung cancer is reduced by ubiquinone intake. Folia Microbiol (Praha) 43 (5): 505-6, 1998. [PUBMED Abstract]
  15. Folkers K: The potential of coenzyme Q 10 (NSC-140865) in cancer treatment. Cancer Chemother Rep 2 4 (4): 19-22, 1974. [PUBMED Abstract]
  16. Folkers K, Porter TH, Bertino JR, et al.: Inhibition of two human tumor cell lines by antimetabolites of coenzyme Q10. Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol 19 (3): 485-90, 1978. [PUBMED Abstract]
  • Updated: May 14, 2014