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Ingredient Spotlight - PQQ

Pyrroloquinoline quinone
June 15, 2018 Reviewed by Marta 0 Comments

When I recently came across an ingredient called pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), I was immediately excited. Of course, my inner ingredient nerd loves coming across new skincare actives, but what piqued my interest in PQQ is its relationship to mitochondria.

Mitochondria are important enzymes that are the nucleus of energy in our cells. Recently, scientists at Newcastle University in the UK identified that mitochondria decline with age, especially in the skin. They noted that the mitochondria enzyme “is the hinge between the two important ways of making energy in our cells and a decrease in its activity contributes to decreased bio-energy in aging skin.”

The means that looking after, even replenishing mitochondria is an important component of our skincare strategy. Now that New Zealand company, MitoQ is no longer making its original mitochondria-targeting serum based on a form of ubiquinone (CoQ10), I’ve been on the look out for a replacement. And now I have found one.

PQQ is the key active in an excellent serum from Scandinavia called Transderma O (you can read a community review of Transderma O here). So what exactly is PQQ?

Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) is a small quinone molecule that is a REDOX agent, that is to say capable of reducing oxidants (an antioxidant effect). It can be recycled by glutathione back into an active form and can undergo several thousand cycles before being used up. PQQ is able to carry out 20,000 catalytic conversions compared to only 4 for vitamin C. As with essential nutrients, the immune system seems sensitive to low levels of PQQ.

It seems be a sociable molecule that likes to hang out with other antioxidants such as carotenoids like β-carotene and astaxanthin. Like CoQ10, PQQ defends against mitochondrial decay.

Although there isn’t a ton of research on PQQ and the mitochondria, the most exciting revelation emerged in 2010, when researchers found it not only protected mitochondria from oxidative damage—it stimulated the spontaneous generation of new mitochondria within aging cells, a process known as mitochondrial biogenesis or mitochondriogenesis.

In animal studies, PQQ has shown strong influence over energy-related metabolism and neurologic functions due its mitochondrial function (source).

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. PQQ has been shown to have a therapeutic benefits similar to resveratrol, genistein, hydroxytyrosol, quercetin, but at lower doses (source).

As far as PQQ and the skin goes, there is a study that shows that it improves dry skin by inhibiting the increase in transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

All in all, very good reasons to watch your Ps and Qs.

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