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J Clin Invest. 1979 Aug;64(2):405-12.

Paradoxical effects of clofibrate on liver and muscle metabolism in rats. Induction of myotonia and alteration of fatty acid and glucose oxidation.


Chronic clofibrate intake, on occasion, results in a muscular syndrome in man. We have investigated the effects of chronic clofibrate administration in rats on the electrical activity of a skeletal muscle (gastrocnemius), its composition, and its oxidation of palmitate and glucose. These effects have been compared with those in the liver. Clofibrate administration altered electromyographic pattern of gastrocnemius muscle (characteristic of myotonia), decreased its protein content, and impaired its oxidation of palmitate and glucose. These effects were quite different in the liver, because clofibrate intake increased the liver protein content and oxidation of palmitate without affecting the oxidation of glucose by this tissue. Whereas chronic clofibrate administration markedly increased the concentration of carnitine as well as the activity of mitochondrial carnitine palmitoyl-transferase in the liver, it decreased the activity of this enzyme in the gastrocnemius muscle without a significant effect on carnitine concentration in this tissue. Greater in vivo fatty acid oxidation by clofibratefed than by control rats was evidenced (a) by greater rate of production of (14)CO(2) in the expired air after injection of a tracer dose of [(14)C]palmitate and (b) by greater plasma and tissue concentrations of ketone bodies. We conclude that (a) paradoxical effects of clofibrate on fatty acid oxidation by the liver and skeletal muscle are related to changes in the activity of carnitine acyltransferase, (b) an increase in hepatic fatty acid oxidation may contribute to hypolipidemic effect of clofibrate, and (c) impairment of fatty acid and glucose oxidation by the muscle may be a factor in the development of muscular syndrome in patients receiving clofibrate treatment.

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