Idebenone’s antioxidant potency means it protects against oxidative stress, oxidation and free radical damage. This beneficial effect may help slow down cognitive decline by protecting the central nervous system. Though it is not yet fully understood how it works, idebenone seems to act via various mechanisms of action.
- Protects the central nervous system in the case of ischaemic problems, ie, protects nerve cells from the effects of insufficient blood supply.
- Protects neurons from excitotoxicity caused by the presence of excessive levels of two excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain – glutamic acid or glutamate, and aspartic acid.
- Improves cholinergic activity which is involved in memory function and learning.
- Increases production of nerve growth factor which may stimulate cognitive capacity.
- In addition to these actions, idebenone may also offer certain advantages over coenzyme Q10 in that it can potentially withstand hypoxic situations, ie, it does not auto-oxidise in the absence of sufficient oxygen. Idebenone may therefore be a more potent and resistant alternative to coenzyme Q10.
- Like coenzyme Q10, idebenone has attracted scientific interest for its potential therapeutic applications. It is being investigated primarily as a possible treatment for certain types of myopathy, neuromuscular diseases characterised by degeneration of muscle cells or muscle fibres as they’re more commonly known.
- It may, in particular, help combat cell degeneration. Preliminary findings have been positive for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a severe form of myopathy. Further studies are underway to confirm these findings and pave the way for the development of myopathy treatments.