Mitochondria Primer 6: PQQ, Stardust, and Mitochondrial Sex

October 29, 2018

ReferencesAgingLife ExtensionMitochondria and the Future of MedicineLife Extension 2018J Biol ChemCell MetabolismLinnane NY Acad Sci

 All right. You know that mitochondria supply your energy in each cell. You know that they have their own DNA and can divide. You know that your mitochondria come only from your Mom. If the DNA goes bad and "curdles", we call that cancer and you know that mitochondrial damage may be the defining defect of cancer. By age 90, 95% of our mitochondria are damaged. And you know that as mitochondria decline, the whole organism suffers and gets less energy. 

Hence, you want to know how to get more mitochondria. That's called staving off aging. Muscle cells have about 200 mitochondria. Heart cells have 5,000. Ditto for brain cells. Liver and kidneys have 2-3 thousand. When you exercise, you get more mitochondria. That's called getting in shape. Exercising is so effective at holding off aging, it effectively halves mortality if you exercise daily over age 60. 

But what is the key nugget that mediates mitochondrial duplication? That's where PQQ comes in. It is an extremely unique compound. It is so stable that it is present in interstellar dust. (Cool, huh?) But more importantly, it isn't degraded chemically when exposed to extra electrons. It is so stable, it can accept and pass on loose electrons 50,000 times, making it thousands of times more effective than vitamin C as an antioxidant. CoQ10 plays the role of routine loose electron processing in the mitochondria (three weeks ago). PQQ plays a role too. It turns on the genes that make mitochondria multiply. 

 In fact, PQQ is in all plant food. It's found in mothers' milk. But we can't make it. That makes it a vitamin, for all practical purposes. Animal research has shown if deprived of dietary PQQ, animals have stunted growth, compromised immunity, reduced reproductive capability, and most importantly, fewer mitochondria in their tissue. Give PQQ back and those negative effects reverse. 

 Apply that to humans and we get this week's featured study where PQQ is demonstrated to turn on the genes inside mitochondria that initiate and control mitochondrial duplication. If you want to do a deep dive into mitochondrial duplication, you can read Zhong. This article shows that PQQ activates a signaling protein known as cAMP-response element-binding protein called CREB. It wakes up the CREB gene is known to be key in embryonic development and growth. It also interacts with histones, the proteins around DNA that monitor and protect genes. Those two effects appear to result in the growth of new mitochondria. Other important genes are PGC-1α and DJ-1. I know it sounds dense, but the nugget to take away is the insight into aging being a function of your mitochondria going sour. You can nurture and feed them with CoQ10, acetyl-carnitine, alpha lipoic acid and such, or you can tell them to get in shape and make babies. Get new mitochondria. Exercise, do the fast mimicking diet, or take PQQ. Better yet, do all three. 

 WWW: What will work for me. I'm getting pretty good at the fast mimicking diet. I've completed 9 rounds of it and have a smaller waist to show. I spent all weekend cleaning up the yard getting as exhausted as I could imagine. That's the exercise. Should I start taking PQQ? I checked on Bredesen's program. Sure enough, there it is. Along with CoQ10, NAC, and Alpha lipoic acid. Hmmm. So I did. 

  Pop Quiz

  1. What are the three things that make new mitochondria?                     Answer: Fasting, exercise, and PQQ
  2. What percent of your mitochondria are damaged by age 90?             Answer: 95%. You might call that 1% per year. Take your current years,,
  3. Why can mitochondria multiply?                                                               Answer: They have their own DNA. 10 copies of it in each mitochondrion, right next to the electron transport chain
  4. Why do mitochondria get damaged?                                                       Answer: They have no protective coat of histone proteins. The DNA copies are naked. It makes them incredibly responsive, and incredibly vulnerable to damage and mutation.
  5. CoQ10 and PQQ both do one similar function, and PQQ does one other. Which? Answer: Similar is soaking up loose electrons to protect the DNA. Different is PQQ goes further and plays a signaling role to a bunch of genes that then turn on duplication of more mitochondria.