Combination of Lipoic Acid and CoQ10 Improves Energy Metabolism, Stress Response, and Antioxidant Defenses

Skeletal muscle function largely depend on intact energy metabolism, stress response, and antioxidant defense mechanisms. CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10) has an essential function in the electron transport chain in the inner mitochondrial membrane, and is involved with cellular respiration and mitochondrial biogenesis. It is also known as an important antioxidant. Alpha-lipoic acid is synthesized in the mitochondria and plays a role in mitochondrial function. Alpha-lipoic acid and CoQ10 do not likely work in isolation, but synergistic activity of CoQ10 and ALA in muscle fibers are not well documented.

Researchers analyzed the effect of combined supplementation of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) plus CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10) on a master switch of energy metabolism (PPARγ-coactivator α (PGC1α)), expression of glutathione-related phase II enzymes and glutathione (GSH) levels in cell culture.

The combination of nutrients significantly increased the levels of PGC1α, a master switch of energy metabolism and mitochondrial biogenesis. The combination also increased gene expression related to stress response, glutathione synthesis and recycling. The increase in glutathione was accompanied by an increase in Nrf2 protein levels.

Activation of PGC1α results in greater expression of slow-twitch muscle fibers which depend on increased mitochondrial biogenesis and oxidative metabolism as a main energy source. Physical exercise increases PGC1α activity, and aging is related to a decrease in PGC1α expression in skeletal muscle. A decrease in PGC1α impairs mitochondrial function which increases oxidative stress and depletes glutathione.

This research suggests that the combined supplementation of alpha-lipoic acid and CoQ10 may improve energy homeostasis, stress response, and antioxidant defense mechanisms.

Wagner AE, Ernst IM, Birringer M, Sancak O, Barella L, Rimbach G. A combination of lipoic acid plus coenzyme Q10 induces PGC1α, a master switch of energy metabolism, improves stress response, and increases cellular glutathione levels in cultured C2C12 skeletal muscle cells. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2012.