Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), also called methoxatin, is redox cofactor. It is found in soil and foods such as kiwifruit, as well as human breast milk. Enzymes containing PQQ are called quinoproteins. Glucose dehydrogenase, one of the quinoproteins, is used as a glucose sensor. PQQ stimulates growth in bacteria.
PQQ is a small molecule once thought to be a vitamin, although its actions in the human body are not related to this hypothesized vitamin-like mechanism. Via its actions as a REDOX agent in cells, it can modify signalling and is thought to support mitochondrial function.
Pyrroloquinoline quinone (henceforth PQQ) is a small quinone molecule which has the ability to be a REDOX agent, capable of reducing oxidants (an antioxidant effect) and then being recycled by glutathione back into an active form. It appears to be quite stable as it can undergo several thousand cycles before being used up, and it is novel since it associates with protein structures inside the cell (some antioxidants, mostly notably carotenoids like β-carotene and astaxanthin, are located at specific areas of a cell where they exert proportionally more antioxidant effects due to proximity; PQQ seems to do this near proteins like carotenoids do so at the cell membrane).
The aforementioned REDOX functions can alter protein function and signalling pathways, and while there is a lot of promising in vitro (outside of a living model) research on what it could do there are only a few promising results of PQQ supplementation, mostly related to either altering some signalling pathways or via its benefits to mitochondria (producing more of them and increasing their efficiency).
It is a coenzyme in bacteria (so, to bacteria, this would be something like a B-vitamin) but this role does not appear to extend to humans. Since this does not extend to humans, the designation of PQQ as a vitamin compound has fallen through and it is only considered 'vitamin-like' at best.
PQQ seems to modify oxidation in a cell after binding to some proteins, and this modulatory role it plays can alter the signalling processes that go on in a cell. Due to PQQ being a REDOX agent (capable of both reducing and oxidizing) it is not a pure antioxidant, but it is involved in a cyclical antioxidative cycle with an antioxidant enzyme known as glutathione
For human evidence, the limited evidence we have right now suggests a possible neuroprotective role in the aged (no research in clinical situations of neurodegeneration nor in youth) and it may have an antiinflammatory role. This limited evidence also suggests that the main claim of PQQ, an enhancement of mitochondrial function, occurs in otherwise healthy humans given PQQ supplementation.
The animal evidence that might apply to humans (using oral supplementation at doses similar to what humans use) include a radioprotective effect, possible benefits to insulin resistance, and being a growth factor when PQQ is added to the diet over a long period of time. Higher than normal oral doses in rodents seem to also enhance peripheral neurogenesis (nerve growth outside of the brain) but not necessarily in the brain.
A large amount of the evidence for a direct antioxidant role or the neurological actions related to NMDA signalling of PQQ seem to use very high concentrations in cells, due to possible transportation issues to the brain and low concentrations of PQQ found in the blood following oral ingestion.
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