Int J Biol Sci 2015; 11(1):59-66. doi:10.7150/ijbs.10174 This issue

Research Paper

Coenzyme Q10 Protects Astrocytes from ROS-Induced Damage through Inhibition of Mitochondria-Mediated Cell Death Pathway

Li Jing1*, Mao-Tao He1*, Yue Chang1, Suresh L. Mehta2,3, Qing-Ping He2, Jian-Zhong Zhang1✉, P. Andy Li2✉

1. Department of Pathology, Ningxia Medical University and Ningxia Key Laboratory for Cerebrocranial Diseases, Yinchuan, Ningxia, P. R. China.
2. Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technological Enterprise (BRITE), North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina, USA.
3. Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Wisconsin, School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
*Co-first authors.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) License. See for full terms and conditions.
Jing L, He MT, Chang Y, Mehta SL, He QP, Zhang JZ, Li PA. Coenzyme Q10 Protects Astrocytes from ROS-Induced Damage through Inhibition of Mitochondria-Mediated Cell Death Pathway. Int J Biol Sci 2015; 11(1):59-66. doi:10.7150/ijbs.10174. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) acts by scavenging reactive oxygen species to protect neuronal cells against oxidative stress in neurodegenerative diseases. The present study was designed to examine whether CoQ10 was capable of protecting astrocytes from reactive oxygen species (ROS) mediated damage. For this purpose, ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiation was used as a tool to induce ROS stress to cultured astrocytes. The cells were treated with 10 and 25 μg/ml of CoQ10 for 3 or 24 h prior to the cells being exposed to UVB irradiation and maintained for 24 h post UVB exposure. Cell viability was assessed by MTT conversion assay. Mitochondrial respiration was assessed by respirometer. While superoxide production and mitochondrial membrane potential were measured using fluorescent probes, levels of cytochrome C (cyto-c), cleaved caspase-9, and caspase-8 were detected using Western blotting and/or immunocytochemistry. The results showed that UVB irradiation decreased cell viability and this damaging effect was associated with superoxide accumulation, mitochondrial membrane potential hyperpolarization, mitochondrial respiration suppression, cyto-c release, and the activation of both caspase-9 and -8. Treatment with CoQ10 at two different concentrations started 24 h before UVB exposure significantly increased the cell viability. The protective effect of CoQ10 was associated with reduction in superoxide, normalization of mitochondrial membrane potential, improvement of mitochondrial respiration, inhibition of cyto-c release, suppression of caspase-9. Furthermore, CoQ10 enhanced mitochondrial biogenesis. It is concluded that CoQ10 may protect astrocytes through suppression of oxidative stress, prevention of mitochondrial dysfunction, blockade of mitochondria-mediated cell death pathway, and enhancement of mitochondrial biogenesis.

Keywords: astrocyte, caspase, coenzyme Q10, mitochondrion, reactive oxygen species, ultraviolet.