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Metabolism. 1999 Jan;48(1):74-9.

Effect of long-term valproic acid administration on the efficiency of carnitine reabsorption in humans.

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Department of Pediatrics, and General Clinical Research Center, University of Iowa College of Medicine, Iowa City, USA.


To elucidate the etiology of valproic acid-induced carnitine deficiency, we tested the hypothesis that long-term valproic acid administration decreases the rate of carnitine reabsorption. Thirteen healthy men participated in a 34-day protocol in which carnitine clearance was measured before and after 28 days of valproic acid administration. During valproic acid administration (days 6 to 33), plasma free and total carnitine concentrations decreased (18% and 12%, respectively, P<.05) by 16 days, but returned to pretreatment concentrations by 28 days. From day 14 to day 30, the rate of free carnitine excretion was 50% lower than at baseline (day 4, P<.05). Free and total carnitine clearance, indexed to the glomerular filtration rate, was lower after valproic acid administration (P<.01). Contrary to our hypothesis, after 28 days of valproic acid administration, the rate of carnitine reabsorption was enhanced independent of the glomerular filtration rate and filtered load. Changes in the plasma concentration, rate of excretion, and clearance were specific for carnitine and were not generalized in magnitude or direction to the other amino acids. We conclude that the kidney adapts to conserve carnitine during valproic acid administration and therefore does not cause valproic acid-induced carnitine depletion in adults.

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