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Antioxidant, photoprotective

Important Chemical Components:

Also known as 2,3-dimethoxy-5-methyl-6-(10′-hydroxydecyl)-1,4-benzoquinone, CV-2619, QSA-10, or hydroxydecyl ubiquinone. Its molecular formula is C19H30O5.

Origin Classification:

Idebenone is a synthetic analog of ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10).

Personal Care Category:

Antioxidant, antiaging, moisturizing

Recommended for the following Baumann Skin Types:



Idebenone, also known as 2,3-dimethoxy-5-methyl-6-(10′-hydroxydecyl)-1,4-benzoquinone, CV-2619, or QSA-10, is a synthetic analog of, and similar in structure to, the potent antioxidant ubiquinone, or coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) (see Chapter 57, Coenzyme Q10). CoQ10 is an integral cell membrane nutrient and contributor to the adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-producing mitochondrial electron transport chain, activity in which idebenone has also been shown to engage.1 Idebenone has a significantly lower molecular weight and shorter carbon side chain as compared to CoQ10 and, therefore, greater solubility or ability to penetrate the skin than its natural counterpart (Table 61-1).2–4

TABLE 61-1Pros and Cons of Idebenone


Idebenone was first synthesized in 1984, and introduced as an active agent to treat age-related brain impairment in 1986.5,6 In nearly three decades of extensive research, the preponderance of data that have emerged pertain primarily to the relative success of this benzoquinone compound in comparison to other drugs for treating patients with Alzheimer's disease; its use in organ transplant solutions; and its success in ameliorating various symptoms of Friedreich's ataxia. More recently, idebenone has been included in cosmeceutical products, such as Prevage™, as an antiaging agent.6


As a potent free radical scavenger believed to be much stronger and efficient than other well-known antioxidants (e.g., vitamins C and E, CoQ10, kinetin, and α-lipoic acid), idebenone also functions as an electron carrier and is not characterized by occasional activity as a strong pro-oxidant as is the case with CoQ10 under hypoxic conditions. In fact, under such conditions, idebenone is known to preserve ATP formation, protecting against free radical formation and cell damage.1,7 In addition, idebenone is considered to have potential as a therapy to enhance energy and cognition, to protect organs against excitatory amino acid neurotoxicity, and to retard aging. As a CoQ10 analog, it is thought that idebenone works at least as well as its natural counterpart within the electron transport chain to maintain a high energy level. Idebenone was shown in a rat liver microsomal model to be more effective than CoQ10, though, in protecting against lipid peroxidation.8

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