The ferroptosis frontier: the essential roles of squalene and CoQ in brain and cognitive health

Published: 28-Mar-2024

In the fast-paced world of scientific research, breakthroughs are like sparks igniting the flames of innovation. They fuel progress and open new horizons, especially in the dynamic realms of nutrition and health

Recently, scientific exploration has shed light on an intriguing phenomenon called ferroptosis, offering insights that resonate deeply within this industry, reports Dr Ariati Aris, Scientific Affairs Specialist at PhytoGaia.

Driven by iron-dependent lipid peroxidation, ferroptosis represents a distinctive form of regulated cell death. This process involves the accumulation of lipid hydroperoxides, which leads to membrane damage and eventual cell death.

The mechanism underpinning cell death once ferroptosis is triggered remains undefined.

Ferroptosis has been implicated in various neurodegenerative disorders, kidney disorders as well as liver disease. There is also evidence that ferroptosis plays a fundamental role in the regulation of the growth and proliferation of certain cancer cells.

Unlike traditional cell death pathways, such as apoptosis, ferroptosis presents a unique avenue for intervention and manipulation. 

Recently, a team of researchers at Shandong University in China uncovered groundbreaking insights that were published in the esteemed journal Nature. Their genetic and pharmacological studies delved deep into the role of cholesterol metabolism and its association with protecting cells from ferroptosis.

What they discovered was nothing short of revolutionary — a link between cholesterol levels and cellular vulnerability to ferroptosis.

This discovery not only enhances our understanding of cellular biology but also holds immense promise for manufacturers and suppliers in terms of delivering innovative products and solutions.

But what does this mean for the nutrition and health industry? It's a glimpse into the future that paves the way for innovative products and solutions that could redefine the way we nourish our bodies.

In this captivating study, the researchers set out to uncover the secrets of cell survival, focusing on how cholesterol and its metabolites could influence cell sensitivity to ferroptosis.

What they uncovered was truly remarkable: cholesterol and desmosterol emerged as unlikely heroes in the battle against cell death.

Diving deep into the molecular machinery of cells, the researchers found that cholesterol and desmosterol act as natural inhibitors of ferroptosis.

They exerted their antiferroptotic functions through the same mechanism; that is, they accelerate the degradation of squalene epoxidase (SQLE) to elevate intracellular levels of both squalene and coenzyme Q (CoQ).

The ferroptosis frontier: the essential roles of squalene and CoQ in brain and cognitive health

Coenzyme Q and squalene, two important lipid metabolites, have been identified as novel lipid peroxide scavengers (alongside the GPX4 protein).

The implications of these findings are profound: by boosting squalene and CoQ levels, we might just hold the key to preventing ferroptosis and preserving cellular health.

This study not only sheds light on the intricate dance between cholesterol and cell survival but also paves the way for trailblazing interventions that could revolutionise the way we combat cell damage.

Unlocking opportunities for industry innovation and growth 

The implications of ferroptosis research for the nutrition and health industries are significant. This discovery is not just another interesting finding for scientists to investigate.

It’s a noteworthy development that holds immense potential for businesses in this industry. Why is it so important? Because it unlocks new avenues to create or develop products that could truly revolutionise people’s health.

Understanding the intricate interplay between lipid metabolism and ferroptosis presents new opportunities for nutritional strategies.

Whether it is combating neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s or addressing the complex dynamics of cancer progression, the applications of ferroptosis research extend far beyond theoretical realms into tangible solutions with real-world impact.

This research serves as a pathway, providing insight into the future of nutrition and health products, particularly in terms of innovative dietary interventions.

It enhances the therapeutic possibilities of nutritional treatments utilising squalene or CoQ by regulating systemic disorders (including neurodegeneration).

The ferroptosis frontier: the essential roles of squalene and CoQ in brain and cognitive health

Paving the way for revolutionary health solutions

As a leading supplier of palm phytonutrients, PhytoGaia stands at the forefront of innovation to offer a fresh perspective on the transformative potential of ferroptosis research in product development.

In today's market, the primary source of squalene often comes from shark liver, posing concerns in terms of animal protection regulations, sustainability and the presence of harmful pollutants.

Recognising the need for a sustainable and safe alternative, PhytoGaia has pioneered a groundbreaking solution: STGaia is a novel synergistic complex of natural plant squalene derived from sustainably sourced palm fruits (Elaeis guineensis).

What distinguishes STGaia is its unique blend of plant squalene and tocotrienols (extracted together with squalene from palm fruits), often touted as “Super vitamin E.”

This natural combination offers numerous unique health benefits. Produced via a non-biodiesel route without the use of solvents or chemicals, STGaia represents a clean and sustainable source of squalene and a testament to PhytoGaia’s commitment to quality and environmental responsibility.

With its unparalleled product quality attributes, STGaia opens doors to new possibilities in product formulation and labelling.

As a non-chemical and non-solvent alternative to animal-based squalene, it aligns perfectly with the clean label trend and offers a sustainable and economical solution for manufacturers and consumers alike.

Looking ahead, PhytoGaia’s vision extends beyond product development to collaborative research efforts.

By partnering with coenzyme Q suppliers, our aim is to create formulations that address ferroptosis-related disorders; we’re paving the way to groundbreaking clinical trials and innovative interventions for brain health and neuroprotection.

In essence, PhytoGaia’s commitment to excellence and sustainability underscores our position as a trailblazer in the field of palm phytonutrients, driving forward progress and redefining the future of health and wellness.

The way forward in nutrition and health

In summary, ferroptosis research marks a pivotal moment in the nutrition and health sectors, especially in brain and cognitive health. As a key player in the industry, PhytoGaia embraces this paradigm shift to unveil new avenues for innovation brain health formulations with STGaia.

PhytoGaia is poised to embark on a transformative journey towards a future in which science, sustainability and human health converge to reshape the landscape of brain and cognition health.

Let's join forces to capitalise on this significant opportunity and pave the way for a brighter and healthier world for everyone, especially the elderly.


  • Q. Sun, et al., “Cholesterol Mediated Ferroptosis Suppression Reveals Essential Roles of Coenzyme Q and Squalene,” Commun. Biol. 6(1), 1108 (2023).
  • W. Hu, et al., “Ferroptosis and its Role in Chronic Diseases,” Cells 11, 2040 (2022). 
  • S.J. Dixon, et al., “Ferroptosis: An Iron-Dependent Form of Nonapoptotic Cell Death,” Cell 149(5), 1060 (2012).


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