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  • Open Access

Plasma levels of Coenzyme Q10 are reduced in critically ill patients as compared to healthy volunteers and correlate with age

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Critical Care201216 (Suppl 1) :P154

  • Published:


  • Healthy Volunteer
  • Septic Shock
  • Antioxidant Capacity
  • Mitochondrial Dysfunction
  • Electron Transport Chain


The purpose of this study is to investigate Coenzyme Q10 (Q10) levels in critically ill patients as compared to healthy volunteers. Q10 is an essential cofactor for the electron transport chain reactions necessary for the aerobic cellular respiration. Q10 insufficiency, therefore, leads to mitochondrial dysfunction. It also acts as an antioxidant. Oxidative state is prominent in critically ill patients, favoring the production of oxygen-free radicals. A recent study showed reduced Q10 levels in septic shock patients [1].


We recruited 18 healthy volunteers and 36 critically ill patients in the surgical ICU of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Ethical committee approval and written informed consent were obtained. At the moment of blood sampling, height, weight, and age as well as clinical data were collected. Plasma total Q10 concentrations were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography. The Assessment of Daily Living (ADL) score was obtained after discharge.


Patients' age and gender did not differ as compared to healthy volunteers (P = NS). Plasma Q10 levels were lower in critically ill patients as compared to healthy volunteers (0.81 ± 0.22 vs. 0.50 ± 0.36 μg/ml, P < 0.001). In critically ill patients, plasma Q10 levels inversely correlated with age (R = 0.40, P = 0.015). Lower levels of plasma Q10 (<0.4 μg/ml, median) were associated with lower ADL score after discharge (P = 0.005). In our patient population, plasma Q10 levels were not related to PaO2/FiO2, septic shock, SAPS 2 at ICU admission, SOFA score or mortality (all P = NS).


Plasma Q10 levels are reduced in critically ill patients, suggesting reduced antioxidant capacity. Older patients seem to be more prone to exhibit low Q10 levels. Oral supplementation might be considered for those patients.

Authors’ Affiliations

University of Milan-Bicocca, Monza, Italy
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA


  1. Donnino MW, et al: Coenzyme Q10 levels are low and may be associated with the inflammatory cascade in septic shock. Crit Care. 2011, 15: R189-10.1186/cc10343.PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar


© Coppadoro et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2012

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.