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Diabetologia. 2007 Apr;50(4):824-32. Epub 2007 Feb 20.

Carnitine revisited: potential use as adjunctive treatment in diabetes.

Author information

1
Division of Nutrition and Chronic Disease, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA, USA.

Abstract

AIMS/HYPOTHESIS:

This study examined the efficacy of supplemental L: -carnitine as an adjunctive diabetes therapy in mouse models of metabolic disease. We hypothesised that carnitine would facilitate fatty acid export from tissues in the form of acyl-carnitines, thereby alleviating lipid-induced insulin resistance.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

Obese mice with genetic or diet-induced forms of insulin resistance were fed rodent chow +/- 0.5% L: -carnitine for a period of 1-8 weeks. Metabolic outcomes included insulin tolerance tests, indirect calorimetry and mass spectrometry-based profiling of acyl-carnitine esters in tissues and plasma.

RESULTS:

Carnitine supplementation improved insulin-stimulated glucose disposal in genetically diabetic mice and wild-type mice fed a high-fat diet, without altering body weight or food intake. In severely diabetic mice, carnitine supplementation increased average daily respiratory exchange ratio from 0.886 +/- 0.01 to 0.914 +/- 0.01 (p < 0.01), reflecting a marked increase in systemic carbohydrate oxidation. Similarly, under insulin-stimulated conditions, carbohydrate oxidation was higher and total energy expenditure increased from 172 +/- 10 to 210 +/- 9 kJ kg fat-free mass(-1) h(-1) in the carnitine-supplemented compared with control animals. These metabolic improvements corresponded with a 2.3-fold rise in circulating levels of acetyl-carnitine, which accounts for 86 and 88% of the total acyl-carnitine pool in plasma and skeletal muscle, respectively. Carnitine supplementation also increased several medium- and long-chain acyl-carnitine species in both plasma and tissues.

CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION:

These findings suggest that carnitine supplementation relieves lipid overload and glucose intolerance in obese rodents by enhancing mitochondrial efflux of excess acyl groups from insulin-responsive tissues. Carefully controlled clinical trials should be considered.

PMID:
17310372
PMCID:
PMC5682624
DOI:
10.1007/s00125-007-0605-4
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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