The effects of idebenone on mitochondrial bioenergetics

Valentina Giorgio, Valeria Petronilli, Anna Ghelli, Valerio Carelli, Michela Rugolo, Giorgio Lenaz, Paolo Bernardi

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We have studied the effects of idebenone on mitochondrial function in cybrids derived from one normal donor (HQB17) and one patient harboring the G3460A/MT-ND1 mutation of Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (RJ206); and in XTC.UC1 cells bearing a premature stop codon at aminoacid 101 of MT-ND1 that hampers complex I assembly. Addition of idebenone to HQB17 cells caused mitochondrial depolarization and NADH depletion, which were inhibited by cyclosporin (Cs) A and decylubiquinone, suggesting an involvement of the permeability transition pore (PTP). On the other hand, addition of dithiothreitol together with idebenone did not cause PTP opening and allowed maintenance of the mitochondrial membrane potential even in the presence of rotenone. Addition of dithiothreitol plus idebenone, or of idebenol, to HQB17, RJ206 and XTC.UC1 cells sustained membrane potential in intact cells and ATP synthesis in permeabilized cells even in the presence of rotenone and malonate, and restored a good level of coupled respiration in complex I-deficient XTC.UC1 cells. These findings demonstrate that idebenol can feed electrons at complex III. If the quinone is maintained in the reduced state, a task that in some cell types appears to be performed by dicoumarol-sensitive NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase 1 [Haefeli et al. (2011) PLoS One 6, e17963], electron transfer to complex III may allow reoxidation of NADH in complex I deficiencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-369
Number of pages7
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Bioenergetics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • ATP synthesis
  • Electron transfer
  • Idebenone
  • Mitochondria
  • Permeability transition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Cell Biology


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