CoQ10 Deficient Endothelial Cell Culture Model for the Investigation of CoQ10 Blood-Brain Barrier Transport

Luke Wainwright, Iain P. Hargreaves, Ana R Georgian, Charles Turner, R. Neil Dalton, N Joan Abbott, Simon Heales, Jane E Preston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Primary coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) deficiency is unique among mitochondrial respiratory chain disorders in that it is potentially treatable if high-dose CoQ10 supplements are given in the early stages of the disease. While supplements improve peripheral abnormalities, neurological symptoms are only partially or temporarily ameliorated. The reasons for this refractory response to CoQ10 supplementation are unclear, however, a contributory factor may be the poor transfer of CoQ10 across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The aim of this study was to investigate mechanisms of CoQ10 transport across the BBB, using normal and pathophysiological (CoQ10 deficient) cell culture models. The study identifies lipoprotein-associated CoQ10 transcytosis in both directions across the in vitro BBB. Uptake via SR-B1 (Scavenger Receptor) and RAGE (Receptor for Advanced Glycation Endproducts), is matched by efflux via LDLR (Low Density Lipoprotein Receptor) transporters, resulting in no "net" transport across the BBB. In the CoQ10 deficient model, BBB tight junctions were disrupted and CoQ10 "net" transport to the brain side increased. The addition of anti-oxidants did not improve CoQ10 uptake to the brain side. This study is the first to generate in vitro BBB endothelial cell models of CoQ10 deficiency, and the first to identify lipoprotein-associated uptake and efflux mechanisms regulating CoQ10 distribution across the BBB. The results imply that the uptake of exogenous CoQ10 into the brain might be improved by the administration of LDLR inhibitors, or by interventions to stimulate luminal activity of SR-B1 transporters.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E3236
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2020


  • coenzyme Q10
  • LC-MS/MS
  • blood–brain barrier
  • bEND.3
  • PBEC
  • mitochondrial dysfunction
  • lipoprotein
  • LDLR
  • RAGE
  • SR-B1


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