Examine publishes rigorous, unbiased analysis of the latest and most important nutrition and supplementation studies each month, available to all Examine Members. Click here to learn more or log in.

In this article

CoQ10 supplementation helps with one pole of bipolar disorder

There's reason to believe that coenzyme Q10 supplementation can impact on unipolar depression. This trial looked at whether it could also improve depression in people with bipolar disorder when added to standard treatment.

Study under review: The effects of alpha-lipoic acid supplementation on glucose control and lipid profiles among patients with metabolic diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Introduction

Bipolar disorder (BPD) is a chronic or recurrent psychological disorder that affects more than 1% of the global population[1]. As shown in Figure 1, it is characterized by fluctuations in mood and energy[2] and marked by episodes of mania (great excitement, euphoria), hypomania (persistently elevated and/or irritable mood), and depression, BPD negatively impacts[3] quality of life and overall functioning. With its far-reaching impact on the lives of those who have it, BPD results in the highest suicide rate[4] among mood-related disorders, with a greater risk of suicide attempts during depressive episodes.

Conventional pharmaceutical treatments[5] of BPD include mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants. One reason why this gamut is wide may be because the complete aetiology of the condition is still uncertain[6], although genetics does seem to be a part of the equation, since BPD is one of the most heritable psychiatric disorders. Changes at the neural level in people with BPD might alter brain matter and circuitry, ultimately increasing susceptibility to normal wear and tear, oxidative stress, and inflammation[7]. Recent research has focused on mitochondrial dysfunction[8] in the pathophysiology of BPD, as it leads to oxidative stress and inflammation and is common in people with BPD.

Given the possible role of oxidative stress, inflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction in BPD, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) looks to be a promising candidate for add-on treatment, since it’s involved in all of these to some degree. It is an endogenous lipid-soluble antioxidant that ameliorates oxidative stress[9] and inflammation[10]. CoQ10 is also involved in regulating metabolism and transport, cell signaling, and is an important part of the electron transfer chain within mitochondria[11]. Some preliminary studies have demonstrated the efficacy of CoQ10 for treating depressive symptoms in humans[12] and rats[13]. Mechanistic considerations alongside the efficacy on depressive symptoms led the authors of the study under review to explore the impact of CoQ10 supplementation on depressive symptoms in people with BPD via a double-blind randomized controlled trial (RCT).

Bipolar disorder is a chronic psychological disorder characterized by fluctuations in mood between mania, hypomania, and depression. While its aetiology is still unknown, susceptibility to oxidative stress and inflammation from mitochondrial dysfunction is one possible contributor. These mechanistic considerations, coupled with recent evidence suggesting coenzyme Q10’s (CoQ10’s) efficacy in relieving depressive symptoms, inspired the authors of the study under review to conduct the first double-blind RCT to examine CoQ10 supplementation on depressive symptoms in BPD patients.

Who and what was studied?

Become an Examine Member to read the full article.

Becoming an Examine Member will keep you on the cutting edge of health research with access to in-depth analyses such as this article.

You also unlock a big picture view of 400+ supplements and 600+ health topics, as well as actionable study summaries delivered to you every month across 25 health categories.

Stop wasting time and energy — we make it easy for you to stay on top of nutrition research.

Try free for two weeks

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

What does the study really tell us?

Become an Examine Member to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

The big picture

Become an Examine Member to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

Frequently asked questions

Become an Examine Member to unlock this article.

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

What should I know?

Become an Examine Member to unlock this article.

Free 2-week trial »

Already a member? Please login to read this article.

Other Articles in Issue #48 (October 2018)