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J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Aug;103(8):1029-38.

Nutritional cofactor treatment in mitochondrial disorders.

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  • 1Department of Medical Genetics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Mitochondrial disorders are degenerative diseases characterized by a decrease in the ability of mitochondria to supply cellular energy requirements. Substantial progress has been made in defining the specific biochemical defects and underlying molecular mechanisms, but limited information is available about the development and evaluation of effective treatment approaches. The goal of nutritional cofactor therapy is to increase mitochondrial adenosine 5'-triphosphate production and slow or arrest the progression of clinical symptoms. Accumulation of toxic metabolites and reduction of electron transfer activity have prompted the use of antioxidants, electron transfer mediators (which bypass the defective site), and enzyme cofactors. Metabolic therapies that have been reported to produce a positive effect include Coenzyme Q(10) (ubiquinone); other antioxidants such as ascorbic acid, vitamin E, and lipoic acid; riboflavin; thiamin; niacin; vitamin K (phylloquinone and menadione); creatine; and carnitine. A literature review of the use of these supplements in mitochondrial disorders is presented.

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