Coenzyme: A substance that enhances the action of an enzyme. (An enzyme is a protein that functions as a catalyst to mediate and speed a chemical reaction).
Coenzymes are small molecules. They cannot by themselves catalyze a reaction but they can help enzymes to do so. In technical terms, coenzymes are organic nonprotein molecules that bind with the protein molecule (apoenzyme) to form the active enzyme (holoenzyme).
A number of the water-soluble vitamins such as vitamins B1, B2 and B6 serve as coenzymes.
Last Editorial Review: 1/24/2017