Coenzyme Q Deficiency Syndromes - Ubiquinone Deficiency

Coenzyme Q (ubiquinone) deficiency has been associated with a variety of diseases that include infantile as well as adult forms (uncommon).

  • Diagnosis
  • Monitoring
  • Background
  • Lab Tests
  • References
  • Related Topics

Indications for Testing

Clinical presentation similar to mitochondrial disorders or metabolic disorders with negative results in testing for these disorders

Laboratory Testing

  • Serum creatine kinase and lactic acid levels
    • Elevated in myopathic forms
    • Normal in cerebellar ataxic forms
  • Serum coenzyme Q testing – not useful in diagnosis (see Monitoring section)


  • Muscle biopsy – gold standard
    • Red, ragged fibers
    • Low fibroblast and/or muscle coenzyme Q levels

Molecular Testing

  • May be helpful, although multiple genes are implicated – refer to tables on genes implicated in primary and secondary coenzyme Q deficiencies in Background section
  • Whole exome or next generation sequencing (NGS) may be best methodology

Differential Diagnosis

  • Mitochondrial diseases
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Friedreich ataxia

Serum coenzyme Q levels used for monitoring of therapy


  • Incidence
    • Primary deficiency very rare
    • Secondary deficiency occurs in mitochondrial disorders
  • Age – most disorders present during infancy
  • Sex – M:F, equal


  • Autosomal recessive with variable phenotypes
    • Cerebellar ataxia – most common form
    • Encephalomyopathy
    • Severe infantile multisystemic disease
    • Leigh syndrome
    • Isolated myopathy


  • Majority of patients with deficiency lack a mutation


  • Coenzyme Q is essential for mitochondrial respiration – synthesized in mitochondrial inner membrane; transports electrons in mitochondria
  • Coenzyme Q is also an antioxidant – prevents progression of lipid peroxidation in membranes
  • Affected patients have a deficiency in one of the enzymes needed to synthesize coenzyme Q

Clinical Presentation

  • Cerebellar ataxia  – ataxia, cerebellar atrophy, hypogonadism, seizures, developmental delay
  • Infantile forms
    • Musculoskeletal – generalized proximal muscle weakness, myopathy, myoglobinuria
    • Neurologic – seizures, progressive ataxia, cognitive impairment
    • Ophthalmologic – retinitis pigmentosa, optic nerve atrophy, nystagmus, myopia
    • Renal – nephritic syndrome causing renal failure
  • Leigh syndrome – necrotizing encephalopathy with vision loss, failure to thrive, liver failure
  • Myopathy – muscle weakness; may have adult onset
  • Encephalomyopathy – myoglobinuria, brain involvement
Tests generally appear in the order most useful for common clinical situations. Click on number for test-specific information in the ARUP Laboratory Test Directory.

Creatine Kinase, Total, Serum or Plasma 0020010
Method: Quantitative Enzymatic

Creatine Kinase Isoenzymes 0020414
Method: Quantitative Enzymatic/Electrophoresis

Lactic Acid, Plasma 0020045
Method: Enzymatic

Coenzyme Q10, Total 0081119
Method: Quantitative High Performance Liquid Chromatography


Not useful in coenzyme Q deficiency diagnosis

General References

Balreira A, Boczonadi V, Barca E, Pyle A, Bansagi B, Appleton M, Graham C, Hargreaves IP, Rasic VM, Lochmüller H, Griffin H, Taylor RW, Naini A, Chinnery PF, Hirano M, Quinzii CM, Horvath R. ANO10 mutations cause ataxia and coenzyme Q₁₀ deficiency. J Neurol. 2014; 261(11): 2192-8. PubMed

Carrozzo R, Piemonte F, Tessa A, Lucioli S, Rizza T, Meschini MC, Fattori F, Santorelli FM. Infantile mitochondrial disorders. Biosci Rep. 2007; 27(1-3): 105-12. PubMed

Desbats MA, Lunardi G, Doimo M, Trevisson E, Salviati L. Genetic bases and clinical manifestations of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ 10) deficiency. J Inherit Metab Dis. 2015; 38(1): 145-56. PubMed

Emmanuele V, López LC, López L, Berardo A, Naini A, Tadesse S, Wen B, D'Agostino E, Solomon M, DiMauro S, Quinzii C, Hirano M. Heterogeneity of coenzyme Q10 deficiency: patient study and literature review. Arch Neurol. 2012; 69(8): 978-83. PubMed

Ozaltin F. Primary coenzyme Q10 (CoQ 10) deficiencies and related nephropathies. Pediatr Nephrol. 2014; 29(6): 961-9. PubMed

Quinzii CM, Hirano M. Primary and secondary CoQ(10) deficiencies in humans. Biofactors. 2011; 37(5): 361-5. PubMed

Quinzii CM, López LC, Naini A, DiMauro S, Hirano M. Human CoQ10 deficiencies. Biofactors. 2008; 32(1-4): 113-8. PubMed

Steele PE, Tang PH, DeGrauw AJ, Miles MV. Clinical laboratory monitoring of coenzyme Q10 use in neurologic and muscular diseases. Am J Clin Pathol. 2004; 121 Suppl: S113-20. PubMed

Yubero D, Montero R, Armstrong J, Espinós C, Palau F, Santos-Ocaña C, Salviati L, Navas P, Artuch R. Molecular diagnosis of coenzyme Q10 deficiency. Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2015; 15(8): 1049-59. PubMed

References from the ARUP Institute for Clinical and Experimental Pathology®

Lu J, Frank EL. Measurement of coenzyme Q10 in clinical practice. Clin Chim Acta. 2007; 384(1-2): 180-1. PubMed

Viau KS, Ernst SL, Pasquali M, Botto LD, Hedlund G, Longo N. Evidence-based treatment of guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (GAMT) deficiency. Mol Genet Metab. 2013; 110(3): 255-62. PubMed

Medical Reviewers

Frank, Elizabeth L., PhD, Medical Director, Analytic Biochemistry, Calculi and Manual Chemistry, and Co-Medical Director, Mass Spectrometry at ARUP Laboratories ; Associate Professor of Clinical Pathology, University of Utah

Grenache, David G., PhD, Medical Director, Special Chemistry; Co-Director, Electrophoresis and Manual Endocrinology; Chief Medical Director, Clinical Chemistry at ARUP Laboratories; Associate Professor of Clinical Pathology, University of Utah

Rindler, Mary, MS, LCGC, Senior Genetic Counselor at ARUP Laboratories

Last Update: October 2017