Brain Health,
Smart Drugs,

#163: Idebenone with Dr. Dominic D’Agostino

January 13, 2017

Idebenone, CoQ10, ubiquinol…  what’s the difference?  Dr. Dominic D’Agostino, Associate Professor of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida and Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), is back to talk all things mitochondria and CoQ10.

Neural Dysfunction

The underlying cause of many neurological problems has been linked to mitochondrial metabolic dysregulation.  Neurological disorders like ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and motor neurone disease) are related to problems with metabolic dysfunction.

So what are we to do about it?  Supporting proper mitochondrial function is an important step.  Coenzyme Q10 and its synthetic analogs idebenone and ubiquinol are one way to give your mitochondria a boost.

Dr. D’Agostino has used idebenone in trials with ALS patients with good results:  he saw a 10% increase in survival rates in mice.  There’s still plenty of benefit for more healthy brains, however.

Idebenone and the Healthy Brain

Idebenone was originally developed by the Japanese pharmaceutical company, Takeda Pharmaceutical, for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive defects.  But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t benefit a healthy person, with certain qualifications.

It’s not going to benefit just any healthy person.  Idebenone works where there’s a deficiency in the mitochondrial electron transporter flow.  So it’s going to help healthy people who are dealing with environmental constraints like hypoxia or extreme oxygen toxicity.

More research needs to be done, but Dr. D’Agostino thinks the people most likely to benefit from idebenone supplementation are older.  In particular, anyone who is genetically predisposed to macular degeneration should take idebenone.

Taking Idebenone

Like ubiquinol, idebenone is an analog of CoQ10, but in a more bio-available form.  You can get idebenone from supplements or from food.  The food sources with the highest level of idebenone are sardines and beef liver.

Idebenone is lipophilic so make sure to always take it with a high-fat meal.  Ideally you should take it with a meal of between 500 and 1000 calories.  Any food with medium chain triglycerides is a good bet.

Not Too Much of a Good Thing

Luckily, the toxicity threshold of idebenone is very high — less than 1% of your intake every reaches circulation due to your liver breaking it down.  The dose limit is really your gastrointestinal tract’s ability to tolerate it.  One person taking 400mg four times a day had to stop due to heartburn.

Despite a long half-life of 18 hours, it won’t accumulate in your system so there’s not much risk of overdosing or building tolerance.

PS:  For more brain boosting goodness, make sure to join our weekly Brain Breakfast!

Show Notes
  • 00:00:34

    Episode introduction: Idebenone with Dr. Dominic D'Agostino.

  • 00:01:33

    This Week In Neuroscience.

  • 00:04:00

    5-Star reviews and SDS news.

  • 00:06:15

    Guest Introduction: Dr. Dominic D'Agostino.

  • 00:09:02

    Interview begins.

  • 00:09:40

    Ubiquinone for targeting ALS.

  • 00:10:13

    Studies on mouse models of ALS.

  • 00:15:20

    Idebenone for ALS animal studies.

  • 00:17:17

    Idebenone prescribed for Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy in Europe.

  • 00:20:42

    Idebenone for normal, non-pathological states.

  • 00:22:00


  • 00:24:00

    Nutrition, Drug Metabolism, and Bioavailability.

  • 00:29:16

    Too much idebenone.

  • 00:31:50

    Can you build up a tolerance to idebenone?

  • 00:33:12

    Interview wrap-up.

  • 00:34:05

    Ruthless Listener Retention Gimmick.

  • 00:36:31

    Episode wrap-up.

One comment

  1. ben says:

    Lots of good info! I wonder why Green tea and aspirins should not be taken with fat if you want to maximize their effects!

    But regarding the topic of the episode, I thought most studies showing positive results used the oxidized ubiquinone , not the more bio-available/soluble reduced form ubiquinol? I imagine, even less for the synthetic drug version Idebenone.

    Any over the counter brand of CoQ10 that Dr. D’Agostino recommends? 400mg of Doctor’s Best CoQ10 with BioPerine ?

    I love grapefruits, but since it inhibits the P450 cytochrome enzyme, is there ever a good time to eat it? After dinner?

    I also enjoyed this week in Neuroscience, is there link to the Northwestern Medicine University / Changiz Geula study?

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