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Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2013 Nov;30(8):742-7. doi: 10.3109/08880018.2013.771388. Epub 2013 Mar 4.

Determining and surveying the role of carnitine and folic acid to decrease fatigue in β-thalassemia minor subjects.

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Department of Medical Genetics, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences , Shiraz , Iran.


Beta-thalassemia minor (BTM) patients usually experience fatigue, bone pain complaint, and muscle weakness. Carnitine is an essential protein for transportation of long-chain fatty acids to the matrix for beta-oxidation. BTM patients have abnormally low plasma carnitine concentrations, which results in deficient ATP production. Carnitine and folic acid together may have a role in preventing bone pain complaint and fatigue in these patients. The aim of this study is to determine the effect of carnitine and folic acid supplementation in subjects with BTM. Seventy three BTM (mean age 11.06 ± 5.46 years) and 23 healthy controls (mean age 8.48 ± 3.78 years) were enrolled in the study. Fasting blood was drawn to determine baseline free and total carnitine levels, red blood cell folate concentration, and hemoglobin level. BTM were divided into three groups and received different types of supplementation for 3 months: Group 1, 50 mg/kg/day carnitine; Group 2, 50 mg/kg/day carnitine plus 1 mg/day folic acid; and Group 3, 1 mg/day folic acid. Controls did not receive supplementation. Laboratory parameters were again evaluated after 3 months' supplementation. A detailed quality of life questionnaire was designed to investigate muscle symptoms before and after supplementation. Free and total plasma carnitine concentration and hemoglobin levels in BTM subjects increased significantly after carnitine supplementation (P < .0001). Bone pain complaint and muscle weakness decreased with carnitine. Red blood cell folate level increased after folic acid supplementation. Carnitine and folic acid supplementation resulted in a decrease in bone pain complaint and muscle weakness in cases with β-thalassemia minor.

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