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Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2005 May;20(5):981-4. Epub 2005 Mar 15.

Effect of L-carnitine on erythroid colony formation in mouse bone marrow cells.

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Nephrology and Dialysis Research Drug Discovery Department II, Pharmaceutical Research Laboratories, Ajinomoto Co., Inc., 1-1 Suzuki-cho, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki 210-8681, Japan.



l-Carnitine can alleviate uraemic anaemia in haemodialysis patients by improving erythrocyte membrane functions or erythropoiesis, which are depressed under uraemic conditions. l-Carnitine and palmitoyl-l-carnitine were reported to increase the formation of colony-forming unit-erythroid (CFU-E) colonies in cultures of fetal mouse liver cells, an effect that depended on the concentration of palmitoyl-l-carnitine but not of l-carnitine. In this study, we investigated l-carnitine's effect on CFU-E colony formation in cell cultures of mouse bone marrow cells.


Bone marrow from normal female mice was placed in 35 mm culture dishes containing a medium composed of methylcellulose and various nutrients. The dishes were incubated for 48 h, and the colonies of erythroblasts, which were differentiated from CFU-E, consisting of >/=8 cells, were counted in each dish using an inverted microscope.


The numbers of CFU-E colonies correlated well with both the initial numbers of bone marrow cells and concentrations of recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) in the methylcellulose medium. In the presence of 0.5 or 1.0 IU/ml of rhEPO, l-carnitine at concentrations of 200 and 400 micromol/l significantly enhanced CFU-E colony formation (P<0.001).


l-Carnitine significantly increased the number of CFU-E colonies in mouse bone marrow cell cultures. This finding suggests that l-carnitine stimulates erythropoiesis, partially accounting for its mitigating effect on renal anaemia.

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